Blaster fire rained down around Zed as he searched frantically for a way to survive. The operating table that served as his shield continued to heat up, and began to feel too hot for comfort. He was sure the soldiers were approaching strategically, and he knew he had to do something quick. Even a deadly mistake would be better than letting them walk up and kill him.
Glancing around, Zed saw the body of the Master laying dead on the floor, and felt a slight twinge of hope. Maybe Hammerhead carried some kind of weapon, he thought to himself, inching his way toward the corpse and drawing a steady stream of blaster fire.
Upon reaching the body, a quick pat-down told him there were no weapons hidden under its sparkling cloak. “Damn”, he muttered, feeling defeated. At that moment, he noticed the Master’s glowing bracelet.
The soldiers were approaching quickly. He had to do something fast.
Zed slipped the bracelet off the wrist of the alien and tapped randomly on its surface, mimicking the movements he'd seen the Master perform earlier. Quite suddenly, the pull of gravity in the ship disappeared. He kept the rudimentary shield in front of him as he rose from the ground, but he noticed the blaster fire had ceased. A quick look around the edge of the table told him the soldiers were floating haplessly in the air in the middle of the room, too far from a solid surface to control where they were going.
This was the window of opportunity Zed needed.
Almost instantly, he spotted the Surgical Ray that the aliens had planned to decapitate him with only minutes ago. It was a heavy-duty laser cannon, something straight out of an old sci-fi movie complete with glowing barrel rings. Tightening the grip on his shield, Zed pushed off from the wall and floated toward the ray. Sporadic blaster fire told Zed the soldiers had not recovered from their surprise introduction to zero gravity, and when he reached the Surgical Ray, he spared a few reckless moments without the coverage of the shield while he ripped the device off its robotic arm.
The ray was huge, and Zed could barely hold it under his arm. A quick test of the button on the body of the ray told him he’d found the firing mechanism. He also noticed the gun had some kick, pushing him backward through the air.
“Now to kill me some aliens”, he said, smiling at his good fortune.
Just then, he felt blaster fire hit the shield in several places. Glancing around, he saw that three of the soldiers had made their way to the far wall, and the rest were still floating helplessly.
Zed pointed the gun in opposite direction of the three soldiers, and pushed hard on the firing button. The blast of the raygun sent him hurtling across the room toward the soldiers. He held the table up behind him, blocking the blaster fire that came from them. The thrust of the Surgical Ray caused Zed to build up speed, and when the table slammed into the far wall, the sickening crunch of bonesl told him his aim was true. He’d captured all three soldiers behind the table in one fell swoop!
This left him completely unshielded to the aliens floating and spinning uncontrollably throughout the room, and random blaster fire began to land around him.
Zed aimed the huge Surgical Ray at the closest floating alien and pulled the trigger. “Eat raygun bitch”, he snarled, and hit the button. The ray sent- emitting a blinding beam of razor-thin red light- cut the alien in half like a hot knife sinking through butter.
Zed laughed, and swung the laser through the rest of the floating aliens, cutting them to pieces. The constant kickback of the laser cannon kept the operating table at his back pressed firmly against the wall, pinning the three soldier aliens behind him.
Despite that, he felt the table move as one of the aliens managed to free its blaster hand, snaking it around the edge of the table and firing at Zed. The shot was close, too close, and Zed let go of the surgical ray to wrestle the blaster out of the soldier's hand. Pressing the table firmly against the wall with the force of his legs, Zed reached over the top of the table with the blaster and fired on the three aliens, sweeping the barrel back and forth until he could feel no more movement.
Suddenly, the table collapsed against the wall, and plumes of black soot appeared around him, filling the air like cream in coffee.
“Holy shit”, he said, looking at the blaster in his hand with an expression of awe, “I cremated em’!”
There was little time to celebrate. Hatches in the floor slid open all around the room, and soldier aliens in thruster packs- nearly a dozen in all- flew out of them, scanning the room. Zed spun the operating table around in front of him again and reached in his pocket and tapped the Master’s bracelet, desperately hoping for something useful to happen.
He didn’t expect what happened next.
The sound of human cheering filled the chamber, and Zed spared a glance around the edge of the table just as the human heads that filled the glass cubes were ejected into the zero gravity room! Zed had forgotten about them, yet here they were, screaming cheers and causing utter chaos!
The soldier aliens found Zed behind the operating table and tried to organize an attack, but the heads were too thick. Hundreds of severed heads floated in every direction, blocking blaster fire and clinging to the soldiers with their teeth.
Zed gazed upon the fiasco and smiled broadly. Impulsively, he put his feet on the wall, and thrust himself right into the middle of it.
“Whoo hoo!” he screamed, leveling his blaster at every soldier alien he could find as he sailed across the room.
“Dude, you rock!”, yelled one of the heads as it floated by. As Zed flipped, head over heals across the room, the world spun around him. Enjoying the sensation, he picked off the soldiers one by one, some above him, some below, others lurking off to the side. His entourage of enthusiastic heads protected him from stray blasts as he reached the other side, and he launched himself again. The cheers of the heads and the wild chaos and the screaming aliens were intoxicating, and Zed felt alive.
That was, until the gravity came on.
The heads, the soldiers and Zed all tumbled violently to the ground. Although he’d landed painfully on his head and shoulder, Zed used his new blaster to finish the last two soldier aliens struggling to their feet. Both were covered from head to toe in snarling human heads, and Zed considered it a mercy killing. The room was filled with the painful moans of the heads as they lolled around on the ground, some spitting out chunks of alien flesh.
“What the hell happened?”, Zed asked no one in particular.
Somewhere in the room, a head answered, “The gravity came back on”. Somewhere else in the room, another head said, “No shit Sherlock”.
The door to the room slid open with a sudden hiss behind Zed, and he whirled around, ready for anything. The sight that greeted him was that of a horrendously large soldier alien, angry and rippling with muscle. It leveled its eyes on Zed, let out a tremendous roar, and began to stomp its way toward him, crushing human heads under its feet as it went.
Zed heard the sound of screams in the room as he raised his blaster. In a blur, the creature whipped a lasso-like cord in his direction. The tip wrapped around the barrel of Zed's blaster and the alien ripped it from his hand.
Zed backed against the wall in fear, not know how to stop the creature. Once again, he slipped his hand into the coat pocket holding the bracelet and tapped it. The gravity disappeared, and the monstrous creature floated into the air. Unfazed, It dug its claws into the ceiling and continued its relentless approach. Zed tapped the bracelet again, and the gravity came on, sending the large alien smashing into the floor.
Zed remembered how soft the alien at the portal had felt when he’d punched it in the face. He felt its tissues ripping and bones cracking at the impact He also remembered how badly the operating table had crushed the three soldier aliens when he'd slammed into them.
Finding the pattern, Zed turned the gravity off again. The creature floating upward, and before it could find purchase, Zed turned the gravity on. The creature fell unprepared to the ground, and before it could stand up, Zed turned the gravity off. The fifth time he turned the gravity on, Zed heard the distinct sound of bones breaking when the alien hit the floor. By the 18th time, the creature was little more than a gelatinous husk oozing fluids in the center of the chamber.
A few of the heads cheered despite their own broken noses and bruised lips.
For the first time, Zed stepped out of the surgical chamber and into the hall outside the main door, leaving the human heads and the aliens corpses behind him. "Hey, where're you going? Take me with you!", a woman-head said. and Zed ignored her. The metallic hallway curved gently inward in both directions, and Zed guessed that it skirting the circular operating room as well as the hull of the saucer. As he made his way down the hallway, blaster raised in anticipation, he came across the broken and mangled bodies of several soldier aliens who had been waiting to storm the surgical room.
Looks like that gravity trick worked on the whole damned ship, he gloated to himself.
Zed continued down the hallway, not taking any chances with aliens that may have survived. There were no doors or floor hatches that he could see, and when he began to wonder if he’d end up back where he started, he found an arched doorway leading to a stairway curving upward. There was an alien laying crumpled and broken at the bottom of the stairs moaning in pain.
"S'cuse me", Zed muttered, and shot it in the face as he began to climb the stairs. Ascending slowly, the room at the the top of the stairs began to come into focus. It was filled with chairs, flashing consoles and screens, and it looked to Zed to be the control room.
Cool, he thought to himself, now to get my ass back home to Zoe and Amber.
Zed cleared the last stair and stepped into the room, scanning the complex equipment. There was a low percussive sound coming from the corner of the room, and when his eyes landed on the source, Zed found a creature sitting there, working the console with dozens of gelatinous tentacles. It was huge, horizontally-speaking, and sat in an extra-wide chair. It’s skin was slick and green, and covered in a film of mucus. The end of each tentacle had an odd sort of sock over it, presumably to keep the equipment free of the slime the creature produced. It seemed to expand and contract slowly, and Zed could the lights of the console through its body. The percussive noise, which Zed found vaguely familiar, was coming from a thick black cable snaked directly into the side of the creature’s head. Zed could swear the sound was "You Don't Mess with Jim by Jim Croce.
He raising the blaster and aimed it squarely at the alien, “Hey you!", he yelled, "Turn around!”
The creature continued to work the controls of the ship, completely oblivious.
Zed reached in his pocket, found a quarter, and flicked it at the creature. This time, the alien pulled the black cable out of its head with a loud popping sound. When the end of the tube cleared the creature’s skin, the sound became clearly audible. Zed had been right, it was definitely "You Don't Mess with Jim".
The creature turned toward Zed, revealing dozens of dark splotches along the front of its body. They resembled eyes, thought he couldn't be sure. When it saw the human being had a claster, it turned toward the security screens. Alien corpses lay scattered in every corner of the ship.
The creature turned back to Zed. “You did this?”, it asked in amazement.
“I sure as hell did”, Zed replied, “And you’re next unless you turn this ship around and head back to Earth”.
The creature paused, seeming to absorb its new set of circumstances. Finally, it spoke.
“Put the blaster down my friend”, it said.
Zed raised it higher, "I ain't your friend".
Too fast for Zed to comprehend, the creature stretched a tentacle 30 feet across the room, pulled the blaster out of Zed’s hands, and turned it on him.
“Your right, I'm not”, it answered.
Once Zed's mind caught up with the situation, he raised his hands high in the air, not sure what to do next.
(to be continued...)