Will had the drop on five chattering gray off-worlders, but he hadn’t the slightest notion what to do with them, being trapped in their ship and all. Only thing for sure—he wasn’t going to get tied down or thrown into a vat.
The knobby-necked one skulked slightly to his right, the others had little to distinguish them, all in their outer wear that looked like owl pellets.
“I reckon you twig a thing or two about our lingo, so y’all stay nice and still, and listen very carefully.” He pivoted back and forth, covering all five in his range. “And knock off the chattering.”
“Heh. So you do understand.” He swept his barrel slowly to the right. “That’s good. I want each of you—”
The second to the left squeaked like a speared frog. Will brought his gun back to him, and the one on the far right produced a silvery gadget. Will lunged toward the nearest gray on the left, intending to grab him for a shield, but knocked him to the floor. Knob-neck barked. A dark green, cherry-sized ball flashed through where Will had been standing and tore through the wall.
Will shot the one with the weapon and hit him dead center of his capsule clothing, but the creep didn’t so much as lurch from the impact. The thing pointed and shot, missing Will’s ear by inches, then came toward him. The chamber erupted with their barking, and Will shot him in the head.
The off-worlder went down, spurting yellow. Not like puss. More like lemon juice.
The others kept barking, going into a high pitch, then dropping into a trickle sound.
“You ken who’s in charge now.”
Knob-neck chirped, and a panel disappeared. Will swung his gun toward the opening, and a young Indian, maybe fifteen years put up his hands, palms out.
“You almost took a bullet there, kid.”
Knob-neck tapped all around his head in their odd way of communication.
“The chief summoned me to speak for him.”
“Ask him what the hell those knobs on his neck are.” Will didn’t really care, he was still trying to get the lay of the land so he could make a strategy.
The Indian tapped, then waited.
“C’mon now.” said Will.
The off-worlder tapped.
“Incurable,” said the Indian.
“Hm. What’s your name, boy?”
“All right, Dusty. How many more on the ship?”
He started to tap.
“Don’t ask them. You know how many, or don’t you?”
“C’mon, Dusty. We’re on the same side here.”
“Hm.” Will pulled the straps that had first held him off the table. “You know how to tie knots?”
“Do I look feebleminded?”
Will chuckled. “Hog-tie these demons.”
Dustu turned white and shook his head.
Will grabbed the one he’d knocked down and pushed him to the floor in front of him. “Tarnation, kid, don’t be yeller. Start with old knob-neck.”
Dustu glared at him, but tapped something to Chief Knobneck and took the straps.
Knob-neck chattered and barked, tapping madly.
“The chief refuses.”
Will leveled the gun at the chief’s head. “Ask him if he’d ruther a bullet between those bumps.”
Dustu tapped it out, and the off-worlder howled like a cat in estrus.
“Tell him to lay face down and tie him up.”
Will kept the gun on them as Dustu bound their arms and legs together behind their backs, except for the one in front of Will, sending them into blubbers and paroxysms.
When the boy finished, Will checked each one. “Nicely done. Now tell this cretan to take us to the helm of this craft.”
The gray refused, even at threat of death.
Will crouched next to him and spoke real close. “Well, we’ve got a bit of a problem here, don’t we? Cause there ain’t none of you getting out of here alive excepting this ship lands where I tell you.”
The gray looked up at him for the first time, his eyes black pools of desolation, drawing Will’s soul into the wicked abyss. The off-worlder didn’t respond.
“All right, little dogie.” Will pulled him up by the arm and shoved him onto the table. “There’s always plan B.”
“What’s plan B?” asked Dustu.
“Retribution, my friend.” Will stuck his gun barrel to the side of the off-worlder’s head. “Tell him not to move.”
“He knows.” Dustu took on a sullen look. “What do you mean by retribution?”
“It’s time to show these swine jest how dangerous we are.”
Dustu nodded. “I warned them about you.”