Chapter 9: "Truth makes many appeals, not the least of which is its power to shock."–Jules Renard

I did not want to go to the meeting. Just the fact that the thing was still alive was horrendous. I had felt sympathy before, but this was ridiculous. I wanted everything to end, so I could take Noelle home and contemplate what had happened, the effects. Knowing that this was something happening and not something that had happened was strange. It was a no man's land of sorts, where you're being shot at but you can't just run for cover and hide.

However, I knew people's lives were at risk for every second we didn't take action. The more we acted, the sooner those lives would be safe. That's what we needed to focus on right now. Additionally, we had to learn from our mistakes; conventional warfare would not work on this thing. We needed to deal with it differently, as if that wasn't obvious enough.

The first thing I did after the Major left was pick up my cellphone. Eager to hear Noelle's voice, I didn't realize at first that there was no signal. In disbelief, I ran to find the nearest payphone… nothing. I nearly tore the cable attaching the phone to its booth. It was no surprise that the lines were down. After pacing my room for a time, I sat down on my bed again. I wouldn't be seeing Noelle until this was all completely settled. I tried to think of what she might be doing now, tried to be with her telepathically I guess. She was still with her family at the refuge; she may have tried to call me a few times, but she probably knows she's not reaching me by now. By this point, she's probably focusing on her family. At least she has them there with her right now.

Come 4 o' clock, Ray and I were approached by the Major. "It's time," he said. We then quietly slipped past the rest of the confused troops spreading rumors amongst themselves. Entering a small conference room with a round table and a TV, we were introduced to a few other men: Ltg. Grant Thomas, who was responsible for the entire operation; Dr. Malcolm Reynolds, an acclaimed marine biologist and author; and finally, Mr. Masato Itou, a representative of the Japanese company Tagruato, who had his own translator for us. Two other fellow pilots entered the room as well, Mike Dellania and Rob Lesting.

"Alright folks," said the Lt. General, "Let's solve the first issue here. How many of these 'monsters' are we dealing with?"

This first phrase came as a shock. There was more than one monster? Thinking back to that dreadful night, there were two different roars… one like a terrified shriek, and another like a deep bellow….

"Two at the most, hopefully one," said Major Rancor blankly. "Ray, how would you describe the monster you saw?"

Ray gulped and checked his memory. "Well first off, it was gargantuan. It had a pitch-black eye, almost like a great white shark, and red bulbs sticking out of its head, inflating and deflating." As Ray went on to describe it, with its massive forelimbs and fangs, I noticed that Mike and Rob appeared confused, as if they didn't know what he was talking about.

"And Marcus, you'd back this description?"

"Couldn't have said it much better myself sir."

"Where again did you two see this?"

"Near Central Park, just after 00:00."

"Alright, thank you. Now, Rob, what did you see?"

Rob looked around uncomfortably. "Well, I'm not sure what those two saw, sir, but it certainly wasn't what we saw. This thing was slender and reptilian, with big spikes on its back. Its skin was a kind of charcoal grey, and its eyes were fiery orange. It looked like some sort of oversized theropod, maybe. Real fast, and a long tail as well."

"And Mike, you'd agree with this too? Where and when did you see it?"

"Shortly after 00:00….. When it destroyed the Brooklyn Bridge."

Rancor sighed heavily. "Alright. Let's take a look at the actual footage now from both helicopters, shall we?"

Pressing a button, the TV screen lit up. First there was the footage from our copter. As I reviewed what I had seen not even 24 hours ago, I noticed Mr. Itou looked very uncomfortable, pulling on his collar. Malcolm Reynolds, though calm and collected, looked amazed. "Incredible," he muttered.

After a minute or two, the screen turned to white noise for a second and then showed the footage from Mike's helicopter. Just under the surface of the East River, a slender object could clearly be seen. Suddenly, it surfaced for a minute and dived, showing off its huge shoulder blades, and then dived. Its tailed whipped out of the water… And destroyed the Brooklyn Bridge. After 30 seconds maybe, it revealed itself and entered the city. Just looking at this creature made me feel uncomfortable. Its roar seemed almost maniacal, like a hyena laugh, and its face seemed to have a sly grin. The creature almost looked deranged…. Like a demon.

Rancor turned off the TV screen. "The first creature we saw entered the city from the Hudson River near the Upper West Side, and continued to loom around Central Park for a long time. On the other hand, the second creature not only looked completely different, but was close to Liberty Island and the Brooklyn Bridge at the same time the first creature was hanging around Central Park. Unfortunately, this indicates that we have two gigantic creatures loose in Manhattan, and they're both still alive." There was a brief moment of silence.

"Now, you!" Ltg. Thomas stood up and pointed at Mr. Itou across the table, who seemed to be sweating now. "Whatever happened to your Chuai station in the Atlantic… was it one of these Large Scale Aggressors?"

The translator mentioned something to Mr. Itou, who seemed to respond angrily. The translator then told us, "He claims he's already told you, it was an attack by the eco-terrorist group T.I.D.O. Wave."

"Oh really?" the General walked to the TV. "Perhaps you'd like to account for this then?" Inserting a DVD into the drive, we got a slideshow of some images from the Chuai station incident. The event had been heavily publicized, but I hadn't seen some of these images in the media. Then an image came up that caused a few gasps. There before us, in a black and white image, the monster Ray and I had seen was clearly seen, swimming up towards the rig.

Mr. Itou had had enough. He slammed the table, got up, and started ranting in Japanese. The translator struggled to keep up. "He declares that those images are private property…. Tagruato will be filing a lawsuit…. Forgive me sir, he's not saying very nice things…."

"Tagruato won't need to file a lawsuit, we'll do the honors. The entire city of New York will sue, trust me." The General looked back at the screen. "How is it even possible? This thing, this….. creature. It's impervious to our firepower, not to mention its HUGE! Nature physically can't allow for such a freak!"

"False."

Everyone turned towards the until-now silent Dr. Malcolm Reynolds.