A few more clicks on the old binoculars and the object came into focus. It was the sandy red color of fired clay, stood about twelve meters tall, and an appeared a bit like an oversize lotus. At the bottom root like metal conduit sunk into the ground, while the top folded out and back on itself forming five meter and a half long petals spaced equidistantly apart. Beneath the flower was sequence of vertically aligned half meter cylinders in a single line about the two meter circumference of the trunk.
"Is that some sort of alien plant?" asked the younger sister. She was about eight and this was the furtherst by far she had ever been from their home.
"No" replied her twelve year old brother, "Its one of their laser towers. I think those kite like flaps at the top are where the beams come from."
"What makes you think that?"
"Well, they cleared out all the trees an' other plants, except for right near the bottom. And that's what dad's papers say. Call it a "phased array" though I don't see how that could be. When you phase in a video game, it means you walk through walls - but that thing doesn't move at all."
"I don't think you should be reading dad's reports Joe. They might contain clasified inforatmion or something."
"Classified from who? I'm sure the aliens know how the towers work, and for the town's safety we should know as well."
"Well they could send a remote controlled robot to see it. now I'm cold, and I want to go home, and we're not supposed to be out here anyway."
"Sending drones didn't work - the tower can shoot down anything that comes in too low and looks armed. If they send it up high, there is a missile battery somewhere behind the tower that knocks those down too. But you're just a little kid without a gun. so you can walk right up to it because you're not dangerous.
"No way! Nu-ihnh, I'm not going to near it."
"But you have too! We're in deep trouble for leaving without telling anyone. But dad can't be mad if we help him with his research."
"No I'm not going to do it, I'm cold and hungry, and I want to go home"
"And we can go as soon as you run up to the tower and touch it. Is it metal? Plastic? Chitton like bugs? The aliens are giant bugs, maybe its like a giant termite hill. With lasers!"
"No, I'm not going to do it! No no no no!" Lucy dropped to the ground and began thrashing about in a full-temper tantrum. Or at least a good show - Joe wasn't going to drag her around either way.
"All right, all right, you don't have to touch it, I will just stop making a scene that man over there is getting anoyed and is heading this way."
"I wont do it I wont do I... a man? where? There aren't supposed to be other people out this way."
"That old guy over there at the edge of the forest."
"Eww, he looks kind of old and dirty and he's walking all funny. I wonder if he hurt himself?"
"Probably been walking a long time, there aren't many cars these days. Hey Mister! Over here! There is a town not far from here if you want a shower!"
"That isn't nice Joe, you should say he smells to his face."
"I didn't say he smells, and look he is happy about the offer, he is coming this way faster now."
"Well should he have said thank you or something? How do we know he isn't sick or something?
"Look behind him, he has friends. If he was really sick, he would be laying down and the others would be helping him."
"We shouldn't be talking to strangers, or to aliens, lets just go."
"Quit being a worry wort, nothing is going to hurt..."
They saw the reddish mist erupt from the reanimate's arm before they heard the fire cracker pop. Before the severed limb could hit the ground, another invisible bolt lanced out, burning away flesh across the creature's thighs. Instinctively turning towards the attack's source, the reanimate was was greeted by a changed emission pattern - small pulses flashing across its chest, flash boiling fluids into steam, producing more little explosions across its chest like machine gun burst.. Simultaneously another petal array radar ranged the other reanimates, then then shifted its micro-diodes across the emission spectrum and sent another type of radiation their way, scorching them as well.
The siblings looks at the tower, each other, and the creature lying on the ground that had been half charred away by several hundred kilowatts without making so much as a grunt. Then, they ran, forgetting about both their bikes and the pair of binoculars, seeking only to get as far as possible.
Behind them, the petals rotated to place fresh faces in the direction of new potential targets, and blueish vaporized coolant wafted out the top. On board computers noted the human manually powered conveyances and optical systems in its short range band, and logged a maintenance request to have the next patrol move them.