By Rob Jenkins

The Zalthurian crashed into the pool table as Rex put a blaster bolt square in its ribs.  Porting had never been an exact science, and now that Rex found himself surrounded by Federal Forces, he was starting to wonder why he put so much faith in the spoty technology. The display on his wrist read fifteen minutes until he could port again.  A strong leathery arm snapped him back to reality as he was suddenly hurled across the room.  With a loud crash Rex landed on the other side of the bar, broken bottles littered all around him.


“Standdd up withh your appendages abovve yourrr headd,” rattled a Zalthurain, struggling to pronounce the Terran tongue with its beak like mouth.  “Givvve us theeee Thiliummm pod.”

“You mean this,” Rex quipped standing up.  In his hand he held the small blue orb the Zalthurian wanted; enough energy to power a planet for a decade in the palm of his hand.   “You let me out of here now or I break the containment field,” Rex said trying to bluff.  He knew breaking the field would cause the orb to become unstable; a blast this size could destroy a chunk of the continent.  The four Zalthurians that stood before him started to back away slowly.


“Keeeep containnnmentt.  Youuu are surroundded,” said the lead Zalthurian, continuing to back away slowly.


Rex waved the orb back and forth causing the four creatures to scamper towards the door.  Zalthurians might be frightening to look at, but with the IQ of a child they are easily manipulated; it's how the Federal Forces had conquered their planet so easily.  As the last one left, Rex put the orb back on his belt and started to look for an exit.  He could hear commotion outside so he knew the Zalthurian was telling the truth; he was surrounded and needed to find a way out.  


Making his way towards the back of the bar he could hear even more noise outside.  He needed to make his move quickly or else the building was going to be ambushed.  Eight minutes read the display on his wrist.  ‘How does a frontier bar not have any defenses,’ he thought to himself.  It made no sense.  The interplanetary frontier was the toughest place to live, most buildings had some sort of defense system.  He kept looking around the back room until he finally found it; a control panel for the system.


“Two cannons and a handful of turrets.  At least it's something,” Rex said out loud to himself.  He tried to get the system online but realized the power cells had been dead for some time.  The panel and defenses were useless.  Six minutes read his wrist display.  The Feds could burst through at any moment- he didn’t have six minutes.  He leaned against the panel knowing this was going to be his last few moments.  Suddenly, the panel came to life, and Rex realized what happened.  The Thilium pod on his belt had touched the panel.  ‘This thing has so much power it can indirectly power dead devices?’ thought Rex.  A volley of blaster bolts against the side of the building stopped his thinking.  Quickly he activated the defense system sending blaster bolts raining down upon the Federal Forces.  Immediately a small cruiser went up in flames as the bolts cut the ship in two.   Rex knew this was going to be his only chance to escape.


The back door fell to the ground as Rex blasted it and walked outside.  The cold of the night sent a shiver down his back as he raised his twin blasters.  Chaos is the only way to describe what he saw before him; two full ranks of Zalthurians in complete disarray.  The turrets and cannons rained bolts all around him, indiscriminately firing at anything that moved.  Rex carefully made his way to the barn on the other side of the property.  He needed to find a vehicle quickly.  As he opened the door he was met with a forceful blow to the head.  Stumbling backwards he saw the Zalthurian emerge from the door.


“Youuu willls surrenderr,” it said using its broken Terren tongue.  As Rex started to stand, the beast charged towards him.  Both crashed through the barn door, the rest of the battle becoming fainter.  Rex rolled to his side and got to his feet quickly; he wouldn't let the Zalthurian get the better of him again.  The two went barreling towards each other and locked together struggling.  Rex saw a harvester machine to his left and tried to force the beast towards it.  The sharp harvest end was extended so maybe he could end this quickly.  The Zalthurian missed the blades by inches, bracing itself between the blade slits.  Understanding what the human was trying to do, he threw Rex towards the side of the machine.  The moment Rex came in contact with the machine it roared to life, slicing the arm off the creature.  The Zalthurain roared in pain.  


Rex saw an old speeder as he stood up and quickly ran to its side.  The speeder had no power.  Rex took the orb off his belt and touched the interface.   The speeder came to life with a powerful cry.  With the Zalthurian still writhing in pain, Rex thundered out of the barn full throttle.  Three minutes his wrist device read. 


The Feds quickly gave pursuit.  He could see the cruisers starting to lift away from the old bar and easily gain ground.  With a river to one side of him and a dense forest to the other Rex knew his options were limited.  One minute read his wrist.  Maybe he could make it?  Blaster bolts landed near Rex raining dirt all around him; the Feds had caught up.  In front of him he could see a cliff.   Either he ported before he fell into the river or he drowned.  “Ten seconds left,” he said as the speeder crested the cliff.