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comrades, but they drooped as the alien died.
Still tightly clutching the auto-pistol, he watched the thin, grey
antennae fall to the ground. They pointed off to the left. He swung
about and looked in the direction the native had been scanning, but he
could see no movement beyond the swaying of the desert grass moving in
the faint breath of air.
They should have gotten the message. By now, there was probably a ship
on its way to him. He had to hold out until they got here. He flipped
open the cartridge box and checked his ammunition. Plenty. Of course,
the auto-pistol only held fifteen shots and if they rushed him... He
wished fervently that he had thought to bring the projectile launcher
from the wrecked patrol car.
Damned natives and their uprisings!
He searched the sky anxiously, cold sweat trickling off his forehead in
tiny rivulets. Scenes of other uprisings flickered through his brain,
and more horrible scenes of the remains of tortured captives when he
reached them too late. Those had been small. This one was for real.
The native seemed to materialize out of the ground, screaming shrill
obscenities as he drew himself to his full nine feet of height and
brandished the heavy maul over his head. He came leaping over the ground
and up the hill of tumbled rocks in fiendish rage, his grey antennae
pointed directly at Firstspacer Lors. Behind him came the others, eight
He fired the auto-pistol at the lead alien, watching the bullet tear a
hole in his face, ripping away one of the blinking yellow eyes. The
alien screamed and fell blubbering. He fired again and again, dropping
two more before the charge broke.
Then suddenly, at a sound, he whirled and stared terrified at the alien
behind him. The charge had been a fake, an old military stunt that any
green Spacer could have seen through. For one brief instant, he stared
into the large eyes of the native. Then he fired. Another native rose
from the ground, then another and another. He fired repeatedly, crying
and cursing in his rage at the weapon's inefficiency, while over his
head he heard the roaring of the rescue ship.
Tongues of flame soared over his head and into the surging mass of
aliens. He hoped the ship was not too late...
* * * * *
"Nick! Nick, darling!"
He awoke, his face drenched with sweat and his stomach a tight knot of
fear. He reached out, in his fright, and grabbed the woman at his side,
pulling her into his arms to hold her tightly. She stroked his hair,
kissed his face and whispered soothing words into his ear.
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