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right fist up from the floor and felt it smash into Danson's face. The
Terran slammed backwards against the ship, his head striking the metal
sides. He crumpled into an unconscious blue mound beside the ship.
He wasted no time. Casting a glance at the lifeless panel that was the
emergency door at the far end of the blast tube, he grabbed Danson under
the arms and hauled him up the short ladder to the cockpit of the ship.
If they came through that emergency door, he was finished. He could not
push the button in the wall that would open the huge port in the side of
They would die if he did!
It would be one thing, to free an alien, but to intentionally kill
members of his own race would mean disaster. Thirty seconds after he
pushed the wall button, would open the port at the end of the tube and
send the void of space rushing into the chamber. Anyone who did not have
adequate pressurization would be a fond memory.
He stuffed Danson's body into the cockpit seat and buckled the strap
about him. Lors left the cockpit canopy open and leaped to the floor of
the tube. How long do I have? A minute? Two? Keep them outside, he
pleaded, and dived for the button.
The shout echoed hollowly in the tube. He glanced toward the door and
saw three mechanics inside the tube. Thunder and lightning! One second
after he had slammed the button and all the doors would have locked
automatically and the port would have opened.
Panicked by the sight of them, he whipped out his pistol and fired. In
the tube, the weapon sounded like a firecracker going off in a steel
drum. The unarmed mechanics stopped dead, whirled and ducked back
through the door. In another four seconds, the armed guards would show
Lors shoved the weapon back into the holster and slammed his hand
against the button. It would lock them out now! He had his thirty
seconds now. He dived for the ship, dropped into the cockpit and slammed
the canopy forward, twisting the lock into place.
His fingers moved over the controls and the engines whined into life as
the port opened before him. He was on his way! He revved the engines
impatiently as the big door rolled away and the stars burned in at him.
Then he shoved the speed control forward and the scout ship surged out
into the blackness of space. His feet kicked at the pedals and his hands
worked the stick. The scout ship rolled over and streaked toward the
lighted ball of the earth.
He turned his head, looking over his shoulder at the mother-ship. Tiny
flashes of brilliant light speared from the starship. They lifted,
fluttered and followed him like a swarm of bees.
They were giving chase!
He had thought there would be a pursuit. He kicked at the rudder pedals
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