"It's not here!"
We look at the disabled lizard ship and see Zorg pulling herself out of the top. She shakes her head in disappointment.
"The equipment we seek, it isn't in this ship. Our intelligence reports were incorrect."
Xander pounds his fist into the palm of his hand.
"Are you certain?" he asks.
Zorg nods her head, then turns to see Smoking Woman bound and sitting off to the side of the highway. A pair of Rask warriors guard her. She has several serious wounds from the previous battle, but for the moment, she's still alive.
Xander strides up to her, grabs her by the neck, and lifts her high over his head.
"Where is it?" he demands. "Where is Element X?"
Smoking Woman sputters. I'm not sure if that was a laugh, or if her lungs are filling up with her bright green blood.
"You think we carry such a compound in abundance?" she rasps. "Only what is needed."
Xander glares at her for a moment, then opens his hand and lets her fall back down to the dirt. She lands in a heap and falls over onto her side.
I lift an eyebrow and trade a look with Jenn. She's a little taken aback by that move as well. That seemed a little more aggressive than what we've come to expect from our alien allies.
The Rask all start speaking at once in their alien tongue.
I look into the back of the Lincoln Continental that we all hid in during the last battle. Jack is still stretched out on the back seat with his jacket draped over his upper body. I think he might be broken now.
Xander approaches us, clearly upset.
"You will take us to the Grey's buried ship. It is the only place left. Element X must be found there."
"Woah, woah, woah, woah," Jenn says, holding up her hands in a submissive manner. "What's all this business about - what did you just call it? Element X? Why are we just hearing about this now?"
Xander doesn't answer. Instead, he turns back to his fellow-countrymen and continues to jabber away.
I'm starting to feel a little uneasy. Like Jenn said, why are we just hearing about this right now? If I'm remembering correctly, Xander said the Rask needed equipment found on the Smoker's ship - now we're being basically ordered to take them to the Grey's underground cavern?
Jenn approaches and whispers in my ear. "Yeah, I'm getting a weird vibe here. What do you think?"
I nod to her, signaling that I'm on the same page.
The Rask finish their - I don't know - pow wow? I guess? Zorg lumbers over to us.
"You will take us to the Grey's ship, now."
I take a moment before I respond.
"Don't you know where it is?" I ask with a confused face. "Apparently, you all have the ability to travel through space and time, but you don't know where their ship is?"
"They hide from us, and us from them," she says with a frown. "You two are the only ones who know of both ship locations. If you are allies to the Rask, you will take us to them!"
Jenn looks at me again, then back to the large, alien woman. "Sure. For sure, we can for sure do that, but before we do - how about you tell us more about this 'Element X'? As in, what is it and what do you plan to do with it?"
"It is what allows for traveling between spaces and in and out of time," Xander says as he marches back over to us. "If you wish to return to your places and time, you will aid the Rask in this task. Our stores are almost depleted!"
All of this new information, all at once, is making my head spin. I'm sort of glad Jenn is handling this exchange right now. She's definitely established herself as being the one that's better at thinking on her feet between the two of us.
Jenn nods several times. "I understand. It sounds like things are becoming desperate for your people. Why didn't you share this information with us sooner?"
"It was not relevant," Zorg says with a frown. "You want to be returned to your time and places. We want the fuel to allow that to happen. There was no need for explanations."
"We don't feel comfortable with you withholding information like this," I say. "Now I'm left to wonder what else you haven't told us because you don't think it's 'relevant'."
Zorg leans back and looks down at the two of us. I don't think she's very pleased that I kind of 'called her out' just now. I feel like I'm about to be scolded or something.
"What's done is done," Jenn says, coming to my rescue. "If you'll give us one of your vehicles, we'll try to find the Grey's ship again. It will be difficult as we've only been driven there once. I'm assuming you can somehow track where your vehicle goes, yes?"
The large alien female considers my sister's request, then lumbers back to the rest of her kind. They all begin talking at once again.
I suddenly have a thought and walk over to the half-dead lizard woman. Her Rask guards motion for me to stop as I approach.
I give them a sideways look. "What? Do you think I'm going to help her escape or something? You guys couldn't make her talk, so how about you let me take a crack at it?"
They mutter back and forth for a bit, then wave me over.
"What are you going to do?" Jenn asks as she comes up behind me.
I grab the lizard woman by the lapels of her jacket and pull her back up to a sitting position. Some of her green blood has built up between her skin and the electric camouflage that she wears over her face to give herself a more human-like appearance. The effect is disturbing-looking to say the least.
She's near-death and her eyes have begun to glaze over. I roughly slap her several times to get her attention. I may have even slapped her a couple more times, just as a little payback for all the crap she and the other one put us through.
"Once more for me," she whispers in my ear. I do as she requests.
The lizard woman loudly hisses to announce that she's coherent again for the time being.
"What did the Greys promise you?" I whisper in her ear. "What are they offering your people?"
The lizard woman just grins.
"Forget it, Amber," Jenn says and pats my shoulder a couple times. "She's too stupid to know the answer to a simple question like that. If only her male friend was still alive. He might be smart enough to know the answer."
Smoking Woman scowls and sputters bright green blood in Jenn's direction.
"Stupid, mewling cows. Soon, this world will belong to the Reptiles once more!"
"How?" I demand and violently shake her. "Are the greys going to wipe us out somehow? Or are the Lizard people going to be given enough technology that they are going to rise up and take the planet by force? How, damn you! How?"
Her fowl, lizard lips form into a cruel smile as her eyes roll into the back of her head and her body goes limp. I release my grasp on her coat and her lifeless form slumps back onto the highway's gravel shoulder.
"Okay, we sort of already knew that," Jenn whispers. "So, what now?"
Zorg lumbers back over to us and holds out a set of keys.
"You will find the hidden place that the Greys have buried their ship," she says in a commanding tone. "We will be monitoring you. We will act when the time is right."
Jenn takes the keys and gives an exaggerated nod. "Yes, we will do this thing for the Rask!"
"...right after we take Jake home," I interject. "He's had enough."
Zorg gives a little sniff, then returns back to her people to presumably relay what we just said.
Jenn gives me a shrug, then presses a button on the keyfob in her hand. One of the Lincoln Continentals off to the side makes a loud 'chirp' sound. That's fun. It must make it really easy to find in a large parking lot.
"Grab your new boyfriend, sis," Jenn says with a twinkle in her eye. Maybe she wasn't asleep the whole time I thought she was.
I shake my head and scowl a little, then move to get my 'friend that just happens to be a boy'. Nothing more. Sisters are a pain.
"Come on, Jack," I say and try to pull him out of the Lincoln that he's lying down in. "Let's get you back home."
He trembles a little as I help him stand. Man, I think he might actually be broken for real. Like, 'needs therapy now' sort of real. Poor kid. I almost wish I had more money to stuff in his pockets now. I'm afraid he's going to need it.
I lead him across the highway to the car that Jenn is warming up.
"You two can have the back seat," she says with a smirk. "I don't mind being your chauffeur."
I swear my eyes are about to roll out of my head.
I manage to get Jack stuffed in the back of the car. He puts his head on my lap when I climb in beside him. I guess that's fine. I kind of feel sorry for him right now.
"I'm assuming you have a place back in Salem?" Jenn calls from the front bench.
"No," Jack calls back in a weak voice. "I live with my parents just outside of town. I was going to take Amber to meet them."
Jenn looks back at me with a wicked grin. "Well, no time like the present then, huh? What better time is there than 3 AM to meet one's future inlaws?"
I shake my head at her and start mumbling curse words under my breath. I don't care if she razzes me, but Jack's been through enough. She's being borderline cruel right now and I don't appreciate it.
She sticks her tongue out at me in the rearview mirror. Oh yeah, she knows she's being a real pill right now.
"Off we go then!" she loudly announces and stomps on the gas. We burn a little rubber as we roar back onto the highway. Several Rask are made to leap out of the way as we speed past them.
"I don't feel good," Jack mumbles from my lap. I swear, if this kid yaks on my pants…
"You were very brave tonight, Jack," Jenn calls from up front again. "Amber was right. When you're feeling a little better, we'll come over to your parent's house and thank you properly."
"Can you just drive, please?" I say with a hint of annoyance. Why is she being like this? Is she jealous or something? I guess of the two of us, I'm the one being pursued by a college kid. I wonder if it's the hair? I've always heard that blondes have more fun - maybe it's actually true?
Jenn sticks her tongue out at me again, but then drives the rest of the way to Salem in silence.
Jack manages to sit up when we get to the city limits.
"Take a left," he directs. "Our place is about ten minutes south."
It's just after 3 AM when we finally pull into Jack's parent's driveway. The porch light is on and there's movement inside the front entrance.
"So, look Jack," I say as I prepare to open the side door, "if you tell your folks what actually happened tonight, one: they're going to be seriously freaked out, and two: they're not going to believe you."
He considers my words for a moment, then slowly nods to himself.
"Yeah," he mumbles. "They would be so freaked."
"You got invited to a party in McMinnville," Jenn suggests, "but you got in a car accident on the way. The other driver didn't stop, and it was dark, so you didn't see any details. Amber and I were driving along, stopped, and gave you a ride home?"
"Yeah, maybe…" he says softly.
He looks at me, and then presses his lips to mine. I was sort of expecting this, seeing as I did kiss him a couple times tonight already to get him to comply. I decide to kiss him back. I guess I sort of owe him this, and frankly, he's not the worst kisser in the world.
Jenn starts making kissy-faces in the rearview mirror. Yeah, I'm pretty sure she's just jealous.
"Jacob Alexander Shoemaker!" an older woman shouts as she approaches the car. "You get your drunken backside out of that car this instant! I've been worried sick, young man!"
"Aaaaaand heeeeeeere's momma," Jenn says quietly from the driver's seat.
The irate woman tries the rear side door handle a couple of times. It's still locked, so she angrily begins banging on the roof instead.
"Get out here this instant!"
I take a deep breath and exit the car.
'Momma' looks me up and down several times. She doesn't seem impressed by what she sees.
"Did you have sex with my son?" she practically screams.
Jenn covers her face and sinks a little lower on the front bench. I can see her shoulders quivering with silent laughter. She's loving every minute of this.
"No ma, be cool," Jack whines.
"Oh, don't you 'no ma' me, mister!" she shouts and starts angrily slapping Jack's backside. "You get in this house right now and I don't want to hear another word. Do you understand? Not another word!"
She then turns back to me and puts her finger in my face. "If you're pregnant, you're on your own!" she screams. "Do you understand me? You're never to show your face here again! Taking advantage of my poor baby boy - you should be ashamed of yourself! Now get out of my driveway before I call the police!"
I jump back in the car without another word and slam the door.
Jenn starts howling with laughter.
"Just… drive!" I command as I slump-down to hide from the irate mother still firing obscenities at me.
I suddenly miss the lizard people.