The first mutant caught me unawares, and it was my fast reflexes that saved me from a fatal blow. Once my shields and force fields were energised however, it was short and bloody fight to the death.

The thugs had chaperoned me down some stairs, under the pretence that the dealer was located away in the basement away from surveillance. When the door slammed behind me, I saw the dried blood of other hapless traders, and knew that they wanted my gold and nothing else. I tried to get a sense of my surroundings, but the stink of death was overwhelming and made me sick and disorientated. The punch from the first mutant sent me sprawling across the room with the unfamiliar taste of blood filling my mouth and nose. Looking back, I saw the distorted silhouette of a man leap towards me, his limbs and face cruelly twisted by alien mutation; a mind more animal than human.

It was then that I directed a frantic thought towards my arm protectors, willing them to construct a protective field around me. My training had made me believe that the force fields they generated could appear instantly, yet watching this monster and its companion running towards me, it seemed that it was taking a lifetime.

The field flared into incandescence as the monsters clawed hand slashed at my neck, a shield barely formed and highly unstable. Again I was thrown back, this time as the force field transferred the physical shock of the blow across my body. The shield collapsed having failed to achieve a stable geometry, and I backed away from the first mutant while the second tried to flank me.

On the balcony above, I could see the thugs watching through a thick glass window. I guessed this wasn't the way the sport was played, and I was glad to disappoint them.

If I had been dressed in my expedition suit, I might have had more time and energy to devote to this battle, but I only had limited reserves, so I directed the force field once more to form, and this time it snapped fully into life. Instead of backing away from the first mutant, I ran towards it, forming a slashing blade with the field around my right forearm. The mutant shrieked and died as the blades neatly severed vital organs and arteries in a single blow, its thickened skin and armour unable to resist a blade only a few atoms wide and comprised entirely of energy.

The second mutant backed away immediately, its burning mind wary of the glowing outline that perfectly tracked my body's movements. In my mind, I could see the limited reserves of my energy pack fading fast, robbing me of any advantage I had. The hunter became the hunted, trying to evade my smaller and more nimble form, and although it tried to feint an attack, I could see it was trying to make its way to a staircase to the lower levels.

Its tricks were in vain. The second mutant died like the first, as the last stuttering glow of my shields faded away. The last glimmer of energy disintegrated the door lock, and I was outside again with the soft rain falling on my face. Behind me, the thugs were thrown into confusion, while down in the basement below, an alien voice cried out a single word again and again, a chilling shriek of hatred.


Joshua was gone and I was alone again.


Stephanie Petite figure with Travalian outfit using custom textures. Courtyard set by Stonemason. Aircar is an original model created in Hexagon 1.21.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 6 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

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Updated: 28 August 2009

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