General Squander's jeep screeched to a halt in the middle of a deserted intersection. Burning cars lined the avenue and shattered glass filled the sidewalks like freshly fallen snow.
A column of M-1 Abrams tanks and Bradley APCs surged down the parallel streets.
Lieutenant Sogol asked if the general wanted to continue down the road.
"No," he whispered. "I just want to get a look at him. He's so quiet."
The general raised to his feet and clambered above the windshield. Standing on his seat, he leaned against the windshield and whispered a foxhole prayer, the kind he knew clanged off God's door like an iron newspaper. The general lowered back into his seat and waved forward. The lieutenant weaved around the ten-meter footprint and sped down the hill.
"I want birds dropping heat from all possible vectors! Have we got him surrounded on the ground yet? I want a layer reinforcements hot on my diaper!"
The jeep lurched over a crack in the asphalt, and the general's radio slipped from his fingers.
The quiet monster turned. A million points of data, a million places to look, 360 degrees of opportunity, but he chose one direction, he chose one location. General Heflen Squander and Lieutenant George Sogol, stopped in the middle of a narrow side-street, flanked by burning cars, a jeep tired busted beyond repair, they stared at the beast.
A million points of interest, a fight jet in his left hand, the Matt Moore leaned to the earth, his great face near the general and lieutenant. He did not smile or growl. He just inhaled deep, and the two men lifted into the air. They raised as though gravity had inverted. They grasped for something to hold, but with each inch they raised, they increased in speed. First Sogol, then Heflen, disappeared into the beast's dark nostrils. And their journey finally began.