"You're lucky I'm here, buddy." It was the huge man who liked to pistol whip people. "Captain Patrick Henry, at your service."

He set Dale down on his feet and then glanced back at Cokey who was staring blankly up at the ceiling.

"Dale McElroy." Dale extended a handshake but Captain Henry's gaze was elsewhere.

"She okay?" Captain Henry asked.

"I-I don't know." Dale stammered and wiped sweat from his eyes.

"Well, I hope so. Anyway, I'm not too surprised this nazzy would take hostages."

Captain Henry kicked Haushofer's chair for emphasis and earned a glare from the robed man who had to quickly move his blade or else skewer the Thule leader's neck. Captain Henry surveyed the heaps of dead and dying.

"Dale, you're about the luckiest man in the world." Captain Henry gestured expansively to the corpses and rubble littering the huge bedroom.

"You're alive." The voice belonged to the one-armed woman who had joined them near Haushofer. "That's more than most of my people can say."

The woman in the sheer bra and Panzer Kommando trousers limped over to Haushofer, waved away the assassin's dagger, and punched him square in the mouth.

"That's for being a fucking pervert!" She screamed. "I'm going to spend days working over you with a scalpel and a hammer."

"At least this nightmare is finally over." Dale said.

The bedraggled weatherman wanted nothing more than to sleep and then eat a huge cheese steak. He longed for a way to somehow do both at the same time.

"Over?" Captain Henry grinned. "Hell, I got about fifty thousand alien asses left to kick."

There was a whisper soft sound, like the wind stirring a stand of trees in the distance. People kept talking, kept going about their business, but Dale noticed it and so did the swarthy assassin. The Arab in the white robes tossed his dagger violently to the floor and, in a movement so fast it defied belief, drew out his silver scimitar. His eyes darted around the room and then, with strange abruptness, rolled back into his head.

"What is it?" The one-armed woman asked.

The assassin's head slid from his shoulders and bounced once on the floor with a thump. He stood there, spurting blood from his neck across his white robe.

"What the f-," Captain Henry started.

A shape, pale and humanoid, blurred in from the hallway and with a whistle moved past Captain Henry.

"That ain't good." The big soldier remarked.

Captain Henry turned towards the blur and as he did the action pulled his torso from his legs. He had been severed cleanly in half at the waist.

"Well, hell." He gurgled, smacking against the floor and spilling intestines from his abdomen.

One of the women in body armor spun her gun towards the blurring shape and another moved past her, so fast and silent it was like a gust of air. There were three distinct flashes of white and the woman screamed. Her scream became a gurgle as she fell into four piles of twitching meat on the floor. The white shapes were all around them then, spinning and whirling, and finally coming to a stop. There were more of them than there were humans in the room. They were tall, thin, and naked, with ritual painting or tattoos on their skin. Each held an ornate blade, as white as their alien skin, to the head of one of the humans. Dale looked into the reflective dark eyes of the one in front of him and felt like he was going to throw up.

"Fuckin' bastachhhh…ooooh...," Captain Henry's better half flailed and spit blood on the floor.

Imperatrixian Galactic Trade Commission Enforcement Commander Maximillian Soak Xc8 darkened the room with his presence.

"We meet in person at long last, witch."

Maximillian's fingers easily encircled the one-armed woman's throat and he lifted her off the floor so that they could stare eye to eye.

"Murdering you will be such a sweet relief." He threw her into the wall across the room with a sickening crunch.

He paused to scoop up the silver scimitar of the assassin and this he tossed casually over to the woman's crumpled form.

"Arm yourself. I intend to make this a fair fight." He laughed and the scintillating green energy whips in his gauntlet shivered into malevolent life.

***************

Crutch Limply had been killed a hundred thousand times by Linus Guthry by the time the group approached the access lift that would take them to the bridge of Party Up. A hundred versions of Guthry secured the elevator with a menagerie of arcane weaponry. Limply continued to appear in sickening swarms only to be brutally cut to ribbons. When Limply managed to slay one of Guthry's duplicates a new one would appear with a snap and begin firing his weapon. A dozen of the simulacrums ushered Admiral Regel, the drop ship crew, and the ambassador of Finland into the lift.

Once the lift doors had closed and the group began the long elevator ride to the bridge the Guthry clones began to relax. Some checked weapons and others conversed quietly with each other. The one that Regel believed was the real Guthry turned to him and smiled.

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