The sky was grey, like he remembered, cloudy with promise of rain to enrich the soil. Only there was no more soil, only dead ground of barren land.
The entire city of Edinburgh was replaced with a crater in the heart of Scotland. The vast city of man-made marvels was taken piece by piece until there was nothing left. No concrete, no metal, no water or human life. The only record of there being a city was the highways that was surgically sliced right before the city's entrance, from which he could see the devastation.
When he observed them through his energy-scope, he feared the worse. He expected a war of the worlds, with an attack of every major city – a recruitment of all mankind that if triumphs, would have no time to mourn before rebuilding the majority of civilization.
But when he saw their Minecrawlers take the streets, Dr. Fluke Hawkins knew it would be a lot worse. They did not come to battle, they came to mine. They were too strong, too big. Their Minecrawlers teleported through energy-streams faster without warning, their size was a quarter of the city's and their weapons were like concentrated nuclear blasts. With their enormous tools they caused every structure big and small to collapse into their tubes and metal-tentacles, that vacuumed all the elements – both natural and man-made.
Behind him, he heard a faint whistling sound getting louder and louder. As he turned, he saw a vehicle drive down the road towards him. The car carried the symbol of the British scientific council. A year ago, he left the council when they opposed his theory of Flange Orbits to prove it in the isolation of space. But it took him only a week to discover he was wrong.
The car came to a halt, and opened it's doors. From the cozy fake-leather seats came a tall gentleman in a lab-coat and a golden badge of authority from the council.
"Hello, Wren" greeted Hawkins and adjusted his monocle as a salute.
"It's head-chancellor-Wren." He shot back "You'd know that if you stayed in touch with the real world"
Hawkins smirked "glad to see you're moving up in the world, distancing yourself from the peasants of society." He gestured to the crater behind him with his thumb "sadly, it appears that there won't be much of it left. How did you find me?"
"our drone satellites picked up a flying object from your spaceship, moving faster than we could properly read, but we did pinpoint where it landed. I was surprised, really. I remembered you saying you won't come back until you achieved your greatest feat of science."
"mankind is under attack" said Hawkins "I believe using my inventions to save it would be an appropriate feat"
"and how are you planning on doing that?"
A cackle from above caught their attention, and Fluke Hawkins saw one of the ravens fly above, his blackened wings spread wide to capture the flow of air beneath it. It circled in a vortex until it closed its wings and dove from above like an arrow straight to the ground, and plucked a caterpillar from the surface before it flew back up.
Hawkins' monocle almost fell from excitement as an idea captured his imagination.
He smiled with excitement and answered: "Tell the council I will need a few materials. I shall send you the list once I finish with the final schematics. If I'm right this would be a crashing blow to those damned aliens!" Hawkins, thrilled by his own genius, bounced in his place "By Jove, I've SO much work to do!"
Wren opened his lab-coat and pulled out a pair of carbon handcuffs. "You're not going anywhere, Hawkins. The Council is drafting everyone against the aliens. Come with me to the facility and only there will you help us save the world"
Hawkins' wide grin was replaced with a sad smile "yes, of course. I understand". He lifted his gloved hands to Wren "I know you need all the help you can get, even from disavowed scientist that are hazardous to society. go ahead and arrest me"
Wren stepped towards him, and snapped the handcuffs were the wrist should have been
But they weren't
Instead, the handcuffs breached the glowing image of Hawkins like a cloud of mist.
"what the…? Y…you're a hologram?" muttered Wren, and realized that it wasn't a shuttle that Fluke sent from his spaceship, but a holographic communicator – to observe the destruction from. the ground.
"I promised, didn't I?" Hawkins chuckled "I promised I won't return until I my great work is finished, and I meant it. Goodbye Wren!"
With a blinding flash, the image of the doctor was gone, and his remote projector flew from its hiding spot and into the air on its way back to the Jim Dandy.
Dedicated to Sir John Hurt (1940-2017)