by Laura Thurston
If his boss knew Roy had a weapon in his locker, he’d lose his job. No choice, though. Midshift in the space station docking bay gave him no time to get to his quarters and make it to the Urgath Sector before the final meeting of his re-enactment club. Tomorrow began the re-enactment of the Battle of Thegratcha.
After inspecting each ship, Alfie downloaded the authorization codes. Marta supervised the multi-species offloading crew, giving them a few friendly pronunciation corrections while they worked. They finished and left the docking bay.
Roy and Jose scanned each of the offloaded crates. Time crawled by and Roy’s head brimmed with Urgathi historic battles. Alfie had already examined these crates. A second examination to spite smugglers was a new procedure handed down by the incoming station admin who was Urgathi and who authorized the re-enactment.
A battered Gerustian ship docked. Roy scanned the crate in front of him. Medical supplies. Pass.
Someone yelped. Roy jerked his head up and saw a knife at Alfie’s throat. Thick-bladed and serrated, it looked menacing.
Jose hit the button under his terminal alerting station security. Roy dropped the scanner. He dashed to his locker and grabbed his zinthu, a traditional Urgathi weapon. Blunted for re-enactments, it sported three narrow tines arranged in a triangle and two blades along half of the five-foot shaft.
Roy’s heart raced. Step by silent step, he crept from his locker to the docking bay, gripping the shaft so tightly his knuckles turned white. Bad technique. He forced his fingers to relax and looked around the corner.
Not just one Gerustian. Three others directed Jose and Marta to put their hands on their heads and turn to face the wall. Knife at his throat, Alfie’s legs wavered.
In halting Galactic Common, the one with the knife said, “This one mine. What say?”
One of the others pointed at Marta. “Question. You say.”
“Your grammar is atrocious.”
The Gerustian whacked her across the back and she staggered forward toward the wall. The one holding Alfie pushed him down the stairs and waved the knife at Marta. “You. Take you.”
Roy glanced at the security cameras. Surely Station Security was responding to the alert. They’d be here in moments. Roy’s zinthu was forbidden down here. He should just go back the way he came and—
No. He knew how to use the zinthu in his hands. They couldn’t know it was a replica.
Alfie scrambled to his feet and fled toward the door. The one with the knife chased him.
Screaming an Urgathi battle cry, Roy charged just like they would in tomorrow’s Battle of Thegratcha. Wide open fields dominated the Urgath homeworld. Not in the docking bay. Crates piled up, with barely enough room to swing. Roy whirled the blade around his head. The blade sliced through the air at an angle, low in front. The Gerustian skidded to a stop. The blunted blade caught him and knocked him into a stack of crates. They toppled over and pinned him.
Alfie ran past Roy. The other Gerustians hesitated. They pulled thick handled, curved knives from their sleeves. Light glinted off the finely-honed edges. That reddish tinge and curve identified it as an assassin’s weapon. Paper thin and light, a mere touch could sever a finger. The battle cry died in Roy’s throat.
Marta and Jose scattered. One of the Gerustians tilted her head. All three loosed their knives at Roy. Slicing weapons, not throwing weapons. These Gerustians weren’t here to kill.
Handle first, the knives flew. One hit a glancing blow on the shaft near his hand, the other two missed entirely. They hit the wall behind a pallet.
Roy let out another battle cry and spun the zinthu around his head. He zigzagged toward the Gerustians.
They reached for the sheath on the other arm. Too slow. Roy’s zinthu hit the nearest Gerustian with an impact that shoved her into her buddies.
Roy looked back at the one pinned under the crates. Marta was already tying him up. Jose rooted around in an upended crate. Roy backed the Gerustians toward the wall. “Surrender,” he said in Galactic Common. “You know that word, right?”
Marta walked up behind him. “And say please.”
The Gerustians surrendered. Marta tied their hands behind their backs and Roy covered them with the zinthu. Jose went to both terminals. “Yeah, panic button’s engaged. Security should be coming any minute.”
An hour later, Station Security arrived and took the prisoners into custody. When they finished interrogating Roy about having a dangerous weapon while on duty, he missed the re-enactment meeting.
In his quarters, Roy found three messages waiting. The first was a termination notice from his boss for violating the weapons policy. The second message was from the Urgathi Re-enactment Society authorizing his zinthu. The third was from station admin thanking him for keeping the diversion force at bay so security could concentrate on capturing the assassins. The message concluded with a note from the security chief asking to schedule a job interview.
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Laura Thurston holds a black belt in the Korean sword martial art Haidong Gumdo and has fun sparring with padded weapons from a variety of genres. Her fiction has appeared online in Devilfish Review, Theme of Absence, and Untied Shoelaces of the Mind.