The three explosions blazed brilliantly in the black void of space, but still the target of their destructive power made it through. As the Moonbase Interceptors returned to their lunar hangar bays, the damaged UFO was already entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
SHADO tracking stations reported the alien craft landing in a remote area of the Swiss Alps. Commander Straker ordered the Valkyrie transporter to lift off for Switzerland immediately.
As the mighty aircraft began its approach to the target area, Colonel Paul Foster checked his equipment and readied the SHADO troopers. They were lined up beside the three SHADO Mobiles, each of which was secured to an aerial deployment platform. The only way to reach the UFOs position quickly would be to drop in from the air.
Satisfied that the troops and equipment were prepared, Foster spoke to the pilot and the Valkyrie dropped through the clear moonlit sky towards deployment altitude.
Secured inside Mobile 1, Foster watched as the huge cargo door split open a few feet in front of the Mobile’s armoured glass view port. It clicked in place with a metallic thud, then the red warning indicator light shone green and the Mobile was moved forward on its platform. For a second it hung on the edge of the ramp with the Alps far below. Then it was over and falling into space. When it was clear of the plane, the massive parachutes opened high above the platform and the descent was slowed.
As the Mobile spun lazily on its aerial cradle, Foster gazed skyward to see Mobile 2 exit the plane, followed by Mobile 3. Their parachutes opened seconds later and the three heavy assault vehicles drifted towards their target. The Valkyrie banked and made towards the horizon, where it would await further orders at a Swiss airbase.
With a crunch of snow, the Mobiles landed on a plateau near the summit of their target peak. Each one drove off its aerial cradle, leaving wide caterpillar tracks in the untouched white landscape. The snow glowed eerily in the light of the moon and there was no sound other than the steady throbbing of the Mobiles’ engines.
Flicking the communication switch, Foster reported to SHADO HQ, “Mobiles 1, 2 and 3 have arrived at target zone, starting search.”
Commander Straker’s voice bristled over the radio, “Understood, Foster. Watch your step. You’ve got the numbers, but that You-Foe’s got you outgunned if it’s still in one piece.”
“Right, Commander, will report back when we’ve found it.”
The three Mobiles split up, forking out towards the craggy peak ahead. Foster looked up at the dark rocky shape, feeling that there was malevolence in its watchful silence. A UFO would be easily concealed among a hundred dark patches of rock. All they could do was proceed with the search.
They had been looking for the UFO for 20 minutes when Hitchen radioed in from Mobile 2 to report seeing something a few hundred yards ahead that might be the target. Foster was just about to reply when a burst of bright green light shot from a dark cleft in the face of the mountain. Mobile 2 took the brunt of the blast and exploded in a blaze of fire.
Foster snatched up the radio, warning Mobile 3 to stay out of range before swinging his own craft around to do the same.
More energy bursts followed, each one lighting up the plateau a brilliant neon green, but they were wide of the mark and the remaining pair of Mobiles made it safely to the cover of a rocky ridge.
So much for sneaking up on the alien craft. Its powerful weapon had the whole area covered. The Mobiles would never get near, that was for sure. That only left an approach on foot and that was little more than suicide. But with no other option, Foster ordered the crews into their snow gear.
Perhaps the camouflaged clothing would be enough. It would have to be, thought Foster grimly, if any of them were to make if off the mountain alive.
TO BE CONTINUED