How long did Henri tell me it took the Mogs to conquer Lorien? Less than a day?

Through the windshield, the Mogadorian warship is visible. It makes the city’s skyscrapers look like toys and casts blocks-long shadows in every direction. The thing looks like a giant roach poised over New York. There are hundreds of blaster turrets along its sides and on its belly, and I think I can make out openings where smaller Mog ships are probably docked. Even with the full Garde, Legacies blazing, I’m not sure we could take down that hulk.

Agent Walker is staring at the ship, too. I guess it’s probably impossible to ignore the massive, alien object that crowds the horizon. She turns to look at me.

‘You can destroy that thing, right?’

‘Sure,’ I reply, trying to mimic Nine’s casual bluster. He’s in the SUV behind ours, probably explaining to his escort of agents how he’ll rip apart that warship with his bare hands. ‘We got this. No problem.’

Next to me, Sanderson chuckles darkly, but shuts up when Walker fixes him with a menacing look. On the other side of the disgraced secretary of defense, Sam finally looks up from the cell phone he ‘borrowed’ from that innocent bystander outside the hotel.

‘The upload is done,’ he says to me. ‘Sarah’s got the footage.’

‘Thanks, Sam,’ I reply, and pull my own phone out from my pocket, immediately dialing Sarah’s number.

I wonder what Henri would think of me and Sam uploading footage of me using my Legacies to the website of They Walk Among Us. In my wildest dreams, I don’t think I could’ve concocted a scenario where I’d willingly take my powers public. But here we are.

Sarah answers on the first ring. I can hear activity in the background – people talking, a television blaring.

‘John, thank God! The Mogs are all over the news! Are you okay?’

‘I’m fine,’ I tell her. ‘Just making my way towards the biggest Mogadorian ship I’ve ever seen.’

‘John, I hope you know what you’re doing,’ Sarah replies, worry in her voice.

‘It’s nothing we can’t handle –’ I start to reassure her, until a blast of static cuts me off. ‘Sarah? Are you still there?’

‘I’m here,’ she replies, sounding a little more distant than before. ‘I think something’s interfering with the connection, though.’

It must be the warships. I’m sure those huge things coming down from orbit aren’t doing any favors for the cellular networks. Not to mention all the panicked phone calls like this one that must be going on around the country. I have to talk quicker in case I lose service.

‘Sam just sent some video files to Mark’s website. Did you guys get them? I think they could be useful.’ I remember what Sam said to me outside the gas station. ‘We don’t want to just scare people. We also want to give them hope.’

Next to me, Bud Sanderson snorts. I guess the old man doesn’t have too much faith in anything we’re doing on They Walk Among Us. I don’t know if it’s going to work either – like Walker’s arrests, like anything we do today, it might be too late for it to matter. But we’ve got to cover every possible angle of fighting back against the Mogs.

‘I’m looking at it now,’ Sarah says, and her breath catches. ‘John, it’s – you’re amazing. But I’m a sucker for handsome aliens performing miracles.’

I’ve been trying to look stone-faced in front of my uneasy allies, so I have to turn away from Sanderson to hide my smile.

‘Uh, thanks.’

‘We can definitely use this,’ Sarah says, and I can hear her already tapping out keystrokes. ‘What are you going to do now, though? That ship looks huge.’

I glance at the chaos outside the window. ‘We’re going to try to end this war before it gets started.’

Sarah’s voice sounds concerned. She knows I’m about to tell her something crazy. ‘What do you mean, John? What’s the plan?’

‘We’re going to the Mogadorian warship,’ I tell her, trying to sound confident about a plan that seems more desperate the closer we get to that looming warship. ‘We’re going to lure Setrákus Ra out. And we’re going to kill him.’

Our convoy has to stop ten blocks short of the United Nations when the traffic becomes impassable. The streets are clogged with people trying to get a closer look at the warship. Some of them are even standing on top of cars or, in one case, a stalled city bus. There are cops everywhere trying their best to restore some order, but I doubt they’re trained for first-contact scenarios; most of them are busy staring up at the ship, too. The crowd is buzzing and there’s a lot of excited shouting.

Just a bunch of easy targets for the Mogadorians. I dread the moment those cannons along the sides of the warship open fire on this crowd. I want to tell everyone to run, but that might just start a panic. If anyone would even listen to me.

‘Move! Get out of the way!’ Walker screams as she gets out of the SUV. She’s got her badge in the air, although no one’s really paying attention to her.

The agents from the two SUVs along with the cops Walker recruited back at the hotel form a tight perimeter around me, Sanderson and Sam. Nine shoves his way in next to us, glaring at a group of teenagers cheering encouragement at the spaceship.

‘Idiots,’ he grumbles, then looks at me. ‘This is nuts, Johnny.’