The Resistance of the Black Rings is a story that takes place on Earth during the Ubide invasion in Shadowed Stars book one.


Amy Zalling was a beautiful and young sixteen-year-old girl and was lying on a soft bed with sheets and pillows that hosted colorful lollipop designs in a plush bedroom with stuffed animals placed all around. The walls were decorated with gems and shiny stars. The bedroom was mostly white with red trim and shaggy pink carpet. There were photos of friends and dogs that also decorated the walls. There was a heart shaped mirror at her dresser with a hairbrush and cosmetics spread about. She wore slippers with large puppy dog heads at the toe ends. She was dressed in pink loose-fitted pajama bottom pants. Her top was a spaghetti strap style design. It was also pink in color and had the image of a sleeping teddy bear across her breast line. Her long and wavy blond hair was pulled back to each side of her head in pigtails and fastened with small pink plastic hairclips. She was in the state of a peaceful rest with soft volumes of pop rock playing from her stereo system by her bedroom door. Above her bed were two posters. One of a spiky blond haired, hunky built and shirtless young male construction worker. The other poster was of a disrobing and handsome male firefighter.

The sounds of pop rock music slowly changed to loud engine hums and bursts of gunfire. Amy had awoken to the new sounds of her reality that was far different from the past she had just been dreaming about. There were now the sounds of voices screaming out and followed by even more gunfire. Her name in this new reality was Az. She now had long dark brown hair with strands of green and red. Her lips, nose, ears, and eyebrows were heavily pierced and she was also heavily tattooed on her back, and arms with wings on her back, a black ring, wolf head and black cross dagger on one arm, a spider web and the word free on the other arm. She wore a tight-fitted black sleeveless shirt with baggy army green pants and combat boots. Her wardrobe was accessorized with multiple loose fitted belts and leather wristbands layered with small metal spikes. A black circular pendant hung from the fiber cord around her neck and two more dangled from one of her belts that she wore.

Az reacted swiftly to the sounds that she had just awoken to so suddenly, yet they were all too familiar to her present life. She instinctively clipped onto her belt, a holster which held a Glock 26 automatic pistol. She also flung onto her back, a sheathed Katana sword. She was short in height at only five feet but still had to hunch over a bench as she grabbed a Colt Cobra sub-machine rifle and scurried down a torchlit tunnel lined with jagged rock walls and wooden support beams. The sounds of gunfire, engine hums and now energy weapon fire grew louder as she traversed through the low ceiling and narrowing passage.

Az exited the small half collapsed mineshaft entrance to see her fellow resistance fighters of the group that called itself the Black Rings, shooting upward at the orb shaped alien Ubide starfighters on their ascent after a swooping and strafing run of heavy energy blaster fire. Az did not pause or lose focus as she instantly took command and started shouting out attack pattern orders and urging for cover to be taken. She swiftly pulled up her sub-machine rifle and shot at an orb starfighter in a downward arc and headed straight at her bold stance.

The bullets that Az fired at the downward swooping orb shaped starfighter were a furious spray but seemed to have done little damage. The orb was now level above the ground and head toward Az with both fore twin guns firing short and rapid laser fire. Az dodged it all remarkably and dropped to the ground as the orb flew over her prone body. It then ascended upward at a turning arc and set up for another attack run. Az slung her Colt Cobra sub-machine gun rifle over her shoulder and started on a dead run away from the fast approaching Ubide starfighter. She was familiar with the territory, which allowed her great ease and advantage to traverse over the terrain. There were a few trees that she had to dodge but they prevented the orb shaped starfighter from obtaining on her, a dead lock.  Az was young, agile and for being only seventeen years of age, quite adept at eluding the Ubide aliens.

She ran to a clearing and a cliff that overlooked many Jagged rocks. She stopped near a dead tree limb and faced the oncoming Ubide orb as it again fired a full barrage of short laser streams. Az quickly dropped to the ground and rolled through the laser blasts as they hit the ground beneath her feet as she rose again into an instant run. During her tumble roll, she had drawn a pistol-like weapon from the tree limb. She had readied the weapon on her run straight from the tumble roll. The Ubide orb starfighter had passed over her and as it did, Az had fired from the pistol weapon a projectable magnetic hook and cable. The magnetic hook locked onto the aft side of the orb and Az lifted off the ground with its ascent. Az had retracted the cable and found herself dangling from the orb shaped starfighter as it approached other arriving orbs that had initiated relentless laser fire onto other fleeing humans.  Az had continued her cable retraction and positioned herself atop the orb. As the orb flew over the battlefield, Az was able to observe that the humans that had been hit by the falling laser fire were only stunned to an unconscious state and were being collected by the gray alien figures in black leather-like attire.

Az maintained her concentration on the situation at hand as she grabbed onto the rough edge outer features of the starfighter. From her new position on the orb, she was able to peer down and into the clear cockpit covering. The three-foot-tall Ubide alien in the solo pilot seat looked back up at Az with only a thick clear barrier between the two locked gazes. The Ubide’s thin neck supported a larger round and bald head. The skin was gray with slits for nostrils and lobeless holes for ears. The eyes were large and a solid shiny black color. The Ubide alien reacted swiftly at the sight of Az looking down at him. He initiated a sharp upward climb toward a higher altitude. The sharp movement took Az by surprise as she slipped down the aft side of the orb before regaining her grip but lost her sub-machine rifle as its strap slid from her shoulder. Az looked down toward the ground that was becoming further away as she dangled from the orb, using all her strength just to hang on. She had two options which were to fall to her death or be taken further into atmosphere and pass out there because of a lack of oxygen and more than likely fall even further to her death. Az needed a third option and she needed it now.

Suddenly two fighter jets streaked by with heavy gunfire and the maneuver caused the orb to alter its path as it started a quick descent and evasion path away from oncoming fighter jets. Az was startled as well but managed to maintain her grip. She even adjusted her hands and feet to a better grip on the craft’s rough outer ridges. The orb starfighter had also initiated a rapid spinning flight maneuvered to shake her off. The maneuver only placed the orb-shaped ship into further assault fire. Multiple missiles streaked by with two of them hitting directly at the starfighter’s fore mounted guns. The Ubide shielding technology was good enough to prevent destruction from the impact but the gun ports were disabled. The gray skinned Ubide pilot checked his displays and found the sky filling with more obstruction. He physically stretched his long skinny neck to try and get a visual of his stowaway passenger on the outside of the craft. He assumed the impact had thrown her free. His next attempt was a telepathic communication but he was well out of range of other Ubides. He again maneuvered his three long skinny fingers and thumb across the pilot console to gain a sensor scan of other Ubide orb starfighters but found the scanning ability also disabled. He made a further descent with his orb-shaped craft and began a visual search to set down and make repairs.

Az tightly clenched her grip onto the underside of the orb starfighter and was still amazed that she had survived the missile attack. The missiles had hit the front of the sphere while she was at the aft side and benefited from the orb’s armor plating and minimal shields. Az breathed deeply, her skin was dirty, her hair was a mess and her clothing was torn but she was alive. She now looked down from her position and noticed the descent of the starfighter as it passed over grounded terrain and began to slow into a hover position. She felt the vibrating push of the ship against her muscular stomach and she shifted her body position to accommodate for the orb’s landing gear that had begun to engage.

The area below was an abandoned truck lot. There were several shelled and overturned semitrailers spread about. The area had obviously been heavily hit by an attack recently as there was still smoke and smoldering debris. The orb starfighter began to slowly lower and at about ten feet away from the ground, Az took the opportunity to drop and roll to the surface. She was quickly back to her feet as the orb’s landing gear contacted the ground. Az ran for the cover of an overturned box trailer and braced her back to the side of it as she peeked her head around the edge to observe the canopy of the orb starfighter open and the three-foot-tall Ubide stood up with a spinning hand held device used for a scan of the area. The fires and smoke were obstructing much of the technical and visual scans. The Ubide put the scanning device into a pouch on the belt around his thin waist and climbed down to the ground. The orb starfighter was about nine-feet taller than the three-foot tall Ubide that now stood next to it. He pulled out another scanning device that had blinking square lights on a small panel that unfolded above the handgrip. He passed the blinking device over the outer hull and then opened an underside panel. The Ubide’s back was toward Az. She pulled her head back around the trailer and rested her back against it as she took an extremely deep breath. She drew the Glock 26 automatic pistol from her belt holster and gripped it tightly with her other hand cupped under it as added support. She took one more deep breath and swiftly stepped around the corner of the overturned trailer. The Ubide alien was nowhere around the orb starfighter. Her verbal response in whisper was, “Shit!” She kept her weapon at a steady aim ahead of her and slowly strode toward the orb. She continued a side to side visual scan as she moved closer. Once she stood next to the landed orb, she released her cupped support hand and used it to initiate a climb up the starfighter and took a peer into the cockpit. It was empty and she jumped back to the asphalt surface. She again replaced her cupped hand to support her hand that now had an even tighter grip on the Glock 26. Az made a circular visual sweep all around her position. She then saw the Ubide atop the very box trailer that she had approached from and his large black shiny eyes looked directly at her now frozen form. His small skinny palm opened and an energy blast was fired from a device he had strapped onto it. Az was thrown back about six feet from the hit and landed on her back. The hit had also disrupted all her senses and as she slowly turned her head, she saw a blurred image of the Ubide jump down from the trailer and slowly walk toward her. On his stride toward her, she also saw her weapon, the Glock 26 lying about five feet away.

The Ubide quickened his pace toward his fallen and dazed target. Az’s vision was still blurry and all the sounds around her were muffled. Her Glock 26 was within reach. She quickly rolled along the asphalt and in mid roll retrieved her gun. In that same movement she had risen to one knee and found herself within point blank range of the approaching Ubide. She fired off multiple shots that were all deflected after the first two by the Ubide’s natural body shielding capabilities. The smaller bodied alien in what was a blink of her eyes, was upon Az. His three long and skinny fingers stretched outward. Az felt compelled to lower herself into his reach. The Ubide then clutched tightly at her throat. The pistol dropped suddenly from her hand. With one hand around Az’s throat and a mental lock to keep her defenseless, the Ubide was choking the life from her. The grip continued to tighten. The life of Az had become more desperate as it started to slip away. It enabled Az to shake off the mental lock that the Ubide had on her. Her life was now on the line and the human desire to survive was a powerful driving emotion.

As he clutched at her throat, they were in direct eye contact and although her assailant was not human, she could see his determination to eliminate her within his large and shiny black eyes. She reached out with both of her hands and clutched tightly as well onto his long and skinny neck that supported his larger head. With all her strength and both her hands, Az squeezed and attempted to snap the Ubide’s neck but the attempt did nothing to slow or weaken the Ubide’s assault. The Ubide seemed unimpeded as he increased the grip of his one-handed choke on her and Az dropped to her knees. The Ubide stepped in closer, now with the height advantage over Az. Her blurred vision was now starting to blacken out. Az reached back now for the Katana that was sheathed on her back. She used the last of the burning fire inside her to tighten her grip on its hilt. The Ubide increased the strength of his grip and the anger on his gray skinned alien face intensified as she drew the katana from the sheath and to her side. With one last desperate chance to survive and her last gasps of breath from her constricted airway, Az took an inward and upward motion swing.

The blade of the katana was not halted by the Ubide’s natural body shielding and slashed deeply into the torso of the alien. He quickly released his grip on her and started to make a loud squawking sound from his mouth. Az fell to the ground now that she was released but managed to maintain her hold on the hilt of her katana. She looked up at the three-foot tall Ubide that now staggered wildly around and attempted with no success to hold his wound shut with both of his hands. Yellow blood was gushing out from his wound and formed a pool at his feet.

Az pulled herself up to her feet and with sharp and fancy sword-fighting skills, twirled the katana around in one hand. She then stepped into the Ubide’s frame and even with her short height, stood taller than the slightly hunched over Ubide caught in her shadow. The Ubide continued to squawk loudly as he staggered around in his bipedal movement. He seemed unaware that Az had closed in on him. He only looked up at her in the last second. Az had now double gripped the hilt of her katana and swung downward with an extreme prejudice. The arc style swing had slashed across and removed one of the Ubide’s skinny legs. The Ubide fell to the ground at the feet of Az and his loud squawking only increased. Her once predator was now a weakened prey and Az circled her movement slowly around him. She slashed downward again and removed his arm that had the energy weapon strapped to his palm. A sadistic glare came across her eyes and a sinister smile grew slowly to accent her face. The Ubide twitched about at her feet in a pool of yellow blood. The squawking sound was now less muffled and had become an annoyance to Az. Her vision had also restored as she raised her katana high above for a killing blow with all intent on removing the head.

Her mental drive into vengeance had blinded her to the fact that two other orb starfighters had landed. The two Ubides had disembarked and moved, unnoticed behind Az. Just before she was ready to swing her killing blow onto the Ubide at her feet, she was caught in the wave of not one but two mind twisting attacks. The two Ubides had simultaneously telepathically locked their mental waves of torture onto her mind. Az dropped her katana and screamed out loudly in severe pain as her mind was invaded and being ripped apart from within. She fell again to the ground and into the pool of yellow blood once at her feet.

Az was dropped to the asphalt surface in a pool of yellow Ubide blood and in excruciating pain. Two of the three-feet tall Ubides continued their mental twist attack to rip her mind to shreds. She twitched in the same pool of yellow blood of the Ubide that she was about to kill and now lied helplessly at his side as she watched his large shiny and black eyes close. It felt like her brain was being torn apart from the inside. She was starting to mix up and lose memories pulled away from her in the process. The attacks grew rapidly in intensity. Az clutched her head with both of her hands and screamed out in agony. Red human blood had started to secrete from her eyes, nose, and ears as it mixed with the yellow blood pool that her face had fallen into.

Suddenly an explosion had filled the air and staggered the two Ubides perpetrating the mental attacks that were halted almost instantly. The two Ubides had also been caught in the blast of another grenade and they fell to the ground with heavy shrapnel injuries. Another explosion from a third grenade had finished them off. Their shattered gray alien bodies rested motionless. Az slowly recovered slightly as she raised her face from the pool of yellow Ubide blood. Her hearing was again muffled and her vision went from again being blurred to blacked out. She was darkened and at this point blinded but aware that she was being pulled from the ground by something. As she was brought to her feet, she realized that her arms were wrapped around what seemed to be human shoulders and one each side of her to assist her standing. Az also realized that her feet were being dragged with the carry motion. She screamed out, “Who are you!? Where are you taking me!?” Her muffled hearing was clearing up in the response to her own question. She was now hearing several human voices all around her. Her motion of dragged movement had stopped and the sides of her face were grabbed firmly. Az felt her feet again fully on the ground and she in an instant reaction struggled to be free. She was no longer being carried. She was being held and she was too weak to escape. Her eyelids were pried open widely and a narrow light pierced through her darkness. A deep voice instructed Az to relax. He introduced himself as Doctor Roundman and made claim that she was safe and her eyesight should return.

More sounds again shattered the air and were accompanied by widespread panic. They were the mixed sounds of laser fire hitting all around her, with screams of people being hit and retaliation sounds of gunfire. Az felt her body being lifted again my multiple arms and she was placed onto a flat metal surface. An engine roared and she started to feel the motion of a vehicle moving. Someone told her that they were on a truck and being evacuated to a safe zone. Az now realized that sensations were returning to her body but she was still blind. She started to scream out in panic and was silenced by the palm side of a hand that softly touched the side of her face. It was a male voice that said, “Az, its going to be okay. Your back with us. We thought we had lost you.” Az slowly recognized the male Brooklyn accented voice of a friend. Az asked, “Yorker is that you?” He replied in the affirmative. She now heard other voices that welcomed her back. They were the voices of her fellow Black Rings resistance members. Az asked Yorker where they were being taken. Yorker replied, “Safe Zone Forty.” Suddenly the transport truck was impacted from an energy blast to the side and Az felt a tipping motion followed by an arm grab her as the truck overturned and started to roll.

Az awoke in a large and soft bed. She could feel her body again. Her sight had also returned and her hearing was no longer muffled. She looked around the room. It appeared to be a cabin. She slowly stood on her feet and noticed she was naked. On the table next to the bed were her clothes and accessories, all neatly and cleaned and organized. She quickly donned her punk style attire and geared up with all her weapons. Aside from a poking feeling in the left side of her neck, she felt comfortable once again. She looked down from the loft to the lower part of the cabin. Az called out for Yorker and then Doctor Roundman. There was no answer from either. She cautiously walked down the stairs and walked to look out the large cabin windows. She could see trees lined in an arc outside the front of the cabin. She opened the cabin door and was hit by the fresh mountain air. She walked down the steps and around the side of the cabin where she had heard voices.

It was there that she burst into the first sense of happiness she had felt in an awfully long time. Her friends and fellow resistance members were gathered around a picnic table. The joy of reunion had allowed Az to ignore the constant poking sensation in the left side of her neck. The members of the Black Rings resistance took turns at embracing the return of Az. The first to approach her was the clumsiest member of the group. His name was Ernie but his nickname was Stumbles. It was a well-deserved name as he knocked over the juice pitcher and as he tried to reset it, the bread fell off the table. He accidently stepped on the bread and turned around again running into Az and spilling his hot dog on her. Az laughed and responded with a hug. The next to embrace Az was Red Anne. She was the eldest member of the group. Despite being in her early forties, Red Anne still had the look and tight body of a twenty-five-year-old woman. Her fiery orange hair that was once down to her waistline was now cut just below her shoulders. Tik Tok was the next to greet her with a hug. He was a bright male technical college student and his obsession with time had not wavered as he stated that it was ten minutes past noon. Throughout all the chaos, Tik Tok seemed to always have the accurate time. Az tested him by asking for times in London, Russia, and Kenya. He rattled off each time without hesitation. It was like he had an internal clock in his brain. MK was the one that hugged Az the tightest. She was an extremely beautiful blond, seventeen-year-old girl, and Az’s best friend. Her real name was Molly Kore but her love of cats and hatred for the mistreatment of animals had earned her the nickname of Mad Kitten. Last was the most joyful of sights. Az’s good friend, Yorker. A nineteen-year-old boy from Brooklyn that had brought Az into the world of resistance fighting and trained her in many forms of weapons combat. Oddly though he seemed to have a much-lessened Brooklyn accent than she had remembered. He contributed it to her three-month slumber.

Yorker explained that the truck they were on had been attacked and overturned. They had managed to bail out from it before the truck rolled over a cliff. Yorker took the credit for pulling her free but claimed that it was Doctor Roundman that helped her through her coma. Az was still puzzled at the statement. MK had injected and explained that they had taken her to an abandoned street clinic that still had a working generator and equipment. Doctor Roundman had helped heal Az of all her injuries and hooked her up to the necessary equipment. Yorker continued to state that it was only three days ago when they had been forced to move her from the street clinic when the Ubides took the city and started abductions. The credit was then given to Red Anne for knowing about the cabin where they now took refuge. Az asked about Doctor Roundman’s current whereabouts and they all grew silent. Red Anne spoke up and claimed that the good doctor was killed defending his other patients.

As the day passed, Az was able to catch up on a lot of missed time. She also learned that the Ubide invasion had been contained for the time being. The Earth’s military had secured small areas referred to as Safe Zones. They were currently in Safe Zone Grizzly Bear. Despite it all, Az wanted to get back to the fighting. She found it quite disturbing that her fellow resistance fighters had grown comfortable to just getting by and seemed to not want to fight anymore. Az reminded them that Earth was their planet and that they needed to fight for it. Stumbles pointed out that the military had been ordered by Earth President Hiro Miksuga to allow the Ubides the contained areas and establish reasonable living conditions for the people of Earth in the Safe Zones. Az grew even more angered at that statement. MK claimed that Earth President Hiro Miksuga’s decision to suspend the fighting and allow the Ubides the freedom to continue their operations as long as appointed Safe Zones were recognized as off limits had saved the human race. She admitted that the arrangement of coexistence was better than fighting a clearly superior race. Az could not believe what she was hearing.

Suddenly something clicked. She had noticed that they had been gathered around the picnic table for dinner and she was the only one that was actually eating. She stopped and looked carefully around the table as she put the chicken leg back on her plate. She also recalled that they had mentioned the Earth president by the last name of Miksuga. His actual name was Miksuka. Yorkers’ Brooklyn accent had vanished completely in the last few minutes. Stumbles had also walked around the picnic table without one incident of clumsiness. Az had not seen him trip or drop anything since their initial confrontation. She also noticed that Red Anne’s orange hair had become more of a dark red color over the time at the table. Az decided to test the situation by asking Tik Tok for the time. He stated that it was ten minutes past noon. She then asked for the times in London, Russia, and Kenya. All his times mentioned were the same as before and Az figured they had been gathered around the picnic table for nearly an hour. She then continued her test and asked MK if she still hated cats and dogs. MK replied that she could not stand the critters. Az had an overwhelming feeling of dread rush over her like an ocean wave. Az stated that she had become suddenly tired again and made the claim that she figured it was that the excitement of meeting them all again had been much more than she had anticipated. She said that she was going to lay down in the loft again for awhile as she excused herself from the table.

Az walked around the cabin and into the wooded area. She walked for a little way and noticed there were no other sounds in the woods, not even her own footsteps as she walked. She continued with even more caution and dread. She could not spot any wildlife and had not even experienced insects. Her course even had remained straight without deviation but she still exited and came across the cabin again. She pulled her katana from its sheath on her back. She gripped it tightly with both hands but something did not feel right with it. She had wielded this very katana many times before and this was not a familiar grip. She then pulled the clock 26 automatic pistol from her holster and attempted to shoot at a tree. There was the sound of the bullet and it appeared to have fired normally but there was no effect on the tree. She then checked the clip and it was fully loaded. She threw it to the ground and again drew and double gripped her katana and swung it at the tree. She felt the impact but there was no slash mark on the tree bark at all. Something was definitely wrong and Az felt fear. She had taken cover in the woodland and continued an observation of the cabin. There was nobody around it. After some time had passed, she slowly approached the cabin and as she did, she felt herself drawn to the woodshed at the side of it. Az opened the door and it was pitch black inside. Az knew that her weapons were useless but drew both anyway as she stepped inside.

As she stepped inside the woodshed, Az awoke in a silver and white room. She was naked and bound by metal clamps at her wrists and ankles to a silver surgical table. She looked around and saw all o f her friends also naked and bound to other silver surgical tables. She called out to them but she was the only one conscious. A door slid open. A five-foot tall Ubide entered. He had the same gray skin, slender build, and shiny black eyes as the four other three-feet tall Ubides that followed him into the room. They circled around the taller Ubide as working drones with computer pads and various yet strange looking tools. Az silenced herself and acted as if she too was unconscious. She opened her eyes just slightly to observe the Ubides approach the silver surgical table next to her where Yorker was bound and secured. The table lowered and the three-feet tall Ubides began to experiment on Yorker’s body while the five-foot tall Ubide observed the process. Suddenly the taller Ubide turned his head with a sharp motion and stared directly into Az’s gaze. Az was filled with instant and rapid fear but seemed to be mentally locked to not look away. The four other three-foot tall Ubides had ceased their experiments on Yorker and turned their attention to Az. The table that bound her began to lower to their reach.

Az started to twitch in pain as the five-foot tall Ubide had linked with her mind and begun a mind twisting attack. The table had fully lowered and the other four three-feet tall Ubides prepared their probing and cutting tools. Az screamed out against the pain of the mind twisting attack that again started to rip her mind apart. She managed to form words as she screamed, “Will you gray skinned bastards stay the hell out of my head!?” Everything around her started to tremble and the mind twist attack was brought to a forced halt. The entire room was shaken and the Ubides around her staggered to maintain their stance. The minimal lighting had just blacked out completely as the Ubides fell to the metal floor. A large humming sound surged through the room and the metal bindings that had secured Az to the table became disabled. Az was thrown to the floor as she felt the entire room tip in a downward motion. She had grabbed onto a fixed leg of the table as she started to slide down the tipping floor but had lost her grip and the force of the slide pushed her further in the downward motion.

Several large explosions pierced the room and created flashes of light. Az used those flashes of light to crawl along the tipping floor’s edge to a blown open exit point. The silver and white metal walls and floors of the corridor were filled with smoke and flames as the ship was clearly falling downward from its once stable position. Explosions were occurring along all the walls while Az stumbled in her navigation against the shaking and falling motions of the ship.

Az felt a large impact of the ship ahead of her path and witnessed that forward corridor collapsing. The effects tore open the side walls at each side of her and the atmospheric pull had sucked her outside the saucer shaped starship. She now saw blue sky but the downside was that she was falling toward a portion of the saucer starship that had crashed ahead of her. The terror that Az felt at the thought of falling was brief as she impacted into a soft sandy surface. Her still naked body was throbbing with pain as she struggled to a stance in the terrain of loose sand. She looked up into the sky and witnessed the Ubide saucer starship still breaking apart and falling through the sky. As pieces of alien metal and alien bodies fell all around her, Az had the survival instinct to run. The running motion was difficult as she fought the heavy and loose sand with each step. Az had managed to traverse up and over a sand dune where she saw a small dugout airfield and a small airplane preparing for takeoff. She started to run down the sand dune but ended up falling and rolling down the decline. She picked herself up and again looked up at more of the Ubide saucer still falling from above. Az took a moment to wonder about the safety of her friends. They had been unconscious and probably did not survive. “How did she?” That was the thought that briefly raced through her mind. The survival instinct in Az was strong and deep. She cleared her mind enough to force her run toward the small dirt path landing strip as the small airplane’s single engine roared and it slowly began to move. Az pushed herself forward against all the pain and blowing sand against her naked flesh. She ran onto the dirt path landing strip and raced against the small airplane that was beginning to increase its speed.

The pilot of the small single engine airplane looked out his side view window to see Az running in full naked form toward the plane. He slowed the ascension speed of the aircraft and aborted his takeoff attempt. Az was able to reach the small airplane and was greeted by the pilot and a blanket he provided her to cover herself. He was a middle-aged handsome man with short and straggly blond hair and an eye patch over his right eye. Beyond the falling Ubide saucer debris and blowing sand, another larger saucer starship was on approach. The pilot suggested they get moving and helped Az into the small aircraft. Once they were both buckled in, he again started the plane’s single engine and initiated the takeoff path. The speed increased and the small airplane lifted upward into the sky.

Once airborne and away from the Ubide saucer crash site, the man introduced himself as Roy Shocks. Az looked nervously around the interior of the plane and tightly embraced herself in the provided blanket. She was still in a state of shock over her escape. She finally introduced herself back to Roy as Amy Zalling. She told him to call her Az and asked what had happened. Roy responded that he was unsure. He had been monitoring the Ubide saucer with some newly advanced sensors when some sort of internal structure failure was detected from what he had assumed was the saucer shaped vessel’s main power source. Az looked out the cockpit windows at the wired devices mounted to the small plane’s nose and wings. She again looked over the interior of the plane, this time with more calmness and alerted senses. There was equipment here that did not seem original to the plane’s build. Roy sensed the oncoming question and responded. He claimed that in addition to the new monitoring sensors, he was also experimenting with a stealth masking technology specifically designed to work against the Ubide detection methods. He pointed back to the central piece of Ubide technology that he had based all his research on. He had salvaged the piece from a crashed Ubide spherical starfighter. Az injected that they called them orbs. Roy asked who they might be. Az apologized and responded that she was part of a resistance movement called the Black Rings. She then quickly turned the conversation back to Roy and asked if he was some kind of scientist or something with all this technology he had claimed to create. Roy responded that he was an unofficial scientist. Az then followed up by asking what the term of unofficial scientist actually meant. Roy claimed that he had researched many physics and engineering lessons and kind of became a scientist without going to all the required schooling and just taught himself from the available published materials. Roy continued about his own brilliance until Az again changed the subject and asked about their present location. Roy responded that they were presently over the Middle East region and on route to what was left of Canada. Az looked over the small aircraft again and inquired if they would make it that far without refueling. Roy explained that they would not need to refuel for quite some time. He added that he had overhauled the fuel system of the plane to operate with his own specifically designed fuel. He assured her that it was all safe and fully tested. He added that it was the same fuel that he was using in the Shocker Four. Az seemed lost in the conversation and asked, “What is a Shocker Four?” Roy claimed that it was his spaceship that he had designed from salvaged materials. He added that it was actually the second attempt at a full-scale build but it was his fourth drafted plan. Az had become immediately concerned over Roy’s sanity or perhaps the lack of it. Then again there was a full-scale alien invasion in process and Roy had claimed to be a genius and self-made scientist. She hesitantly decided to encourage Roy and asked if this spaceship of his was flightworthy Roy laughed. He then calmed himself and claimed that he had tested it on short flights into the higher atmosphere but he had still been unable to break or maintain an orbit. Without any hesitation in his thought, he continued that he was remarkably close to solving that issue. He claimed that he had gathered some other Ubide technology that he had in his cargo aboard this plane that might assist his orbit endeavors.

Az could only shake her head as Roy, who once seemed so stable was sounding more insane as he continued to talk. She then noticed the radio. It was an older style radio and capable of linking to the CB band that the resistance forces were working with due to Ubide disruption of current communication satellites. She had contacted someone that was able to patch her through to other communication points before reaching her desired city of St. Cameron in the Northern United States. Communication on the other end was filled with static but with some effort in listening was still audible. Az had made contact with her Black Rings base of operations. The voice on the other end seemed to be filled with enthusiasm that Az was still alive. She first asked for Tomcat and after being told he had been killed, she asked for Drag Queen and she was informed that he had also been killed. Az thought a little lower in the chain of command and asked for Mary Blue Jay. She was currently listed as MIA and believed to be dead. Az then decided to jump to the chase and added that Red Anne and Yorker were also believed to be dead. She then asked for the current high command structure of the resistance. The voice on the other end was breaking up but just before a total communication loss, Az had learned that she was the next in command.

Az tried unsuccessfully to regain the chain of communication that had led her to the St. Cameron post. Roy looked over to her and asked about her next plan. Apparently, she was now the leader of all the Black Rings. She asked if Roy’s fuel could divert to St. Cameron. Roy answered in the affirmative and started to explain how he had refined the fuel. Az interrupted and politely asked if he wanted to join her and admitted that the resistance could use good pilots. Roy admitted that he was better on his own. He claimed that people distracted him from his own genius-hood. He even admitted to debating rather or not to stop and offer her assistance. He did however offer to reroute his flightpath to an open landing area just outside St. Cameron. Az accepted the offer and claimed she could get into the city from that point. She also thanked him for his decision to help her in the desert. The small plane adjusted its course. Roy and Az both looked ahead not just to the sky in front of them but both to their frightening futures that lay ahead of them.

The future of Az is set in Shadowed Stars book one. Roy Shocks and his spaceship will be followed up in an upcoming short story here on this site. Roy Shocks and the maiden voyage of Shocker Four will launch in SHOCKING FACTORS