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The source of Hissar's injury was immediately apparent to everyone else, as they saw the remaining Nissite guards standing on the sidewalk thirty feet away. Their guns were at the ready, and began firing upon the crowd.
As her husband fell, Haushina immediately dropped to help him, only to be pelted with several energy blasts, herself, leaving her immobile on top of his limp form.
Pierce and Nester managed to get Grisha behind a decorative evergreen bush, which blocked the gunfire, though a few blasts quickly set the greenery aflame, as well.
Sophia and Leeza rushed the children away from the gunfire, passing the burning bush in an attempt to escape the bloodbath. Pushing the children ahead of her, Sophia tripped over a tree root, which saved her from an energy blast that skimmed across her back in mid-fall. Leeza quickly dragged her up by her shirt collar and led her around behind the burning house, away from the shooting.
Nate managed to find cover with Nester and Pierce, behind the burning bush. Glancing at the source of the gunfire, he saw the six remaining Nissite guards lined up along the yard's picket fence.
"There's nowhere to run from here," Edri shouted in English as the gunfire ceased. "I suggest you surrender." He repeated the last line in Unified Linguism.
"I think he's right," Private Pierce said quietly.
"Do you really think he's going to leave any of us alive?" Nester asked.
"Maybe him," Pierce added. "I expect these human creatures are worth something to the Nissites."
"What's it going to be, people?" Edri shouted in both languages. "Surrender and live, or resist and die?"
Nate continued to poke and prod at one of the Nissite pistols he had procured, but nothing he did could make it operate. "The damn thing must be genetically coded or something," he grumbled, tossing the weapon on the ground.
Seeing Nate toss the plastic gun on the ground, a curious thought blazed across Nester's mind. Staring at the ground, he found a palm-sized stone poking out of the grass. He dug it up and threw it at the Nissites, poking his head out from behind the flaming bush for only a second, to avoid being shot.
As the stone hurtled toward the group of Nissites, a pair of them fired on the approaching stone, deflecting it.
Finding a second stone, Nester did the same thing, hurling the stone at the Nissites, watching them blast it away with their energy weapons. The second blast was clearly different. They had altered the settings on their weapons, to provide a more destructive force against the stone. The third stone Nester threw was virtually disintegrated by the energy beam.
They repeated the cycle a few more times, until Nester felt ready to brave his ultimate plan.
Picking up the useless energy weapon, Nester hurled it at the Nissites like the stones, and predictably they fired at it. The resulting explosion sent out a blinding light, along with a large spray of energy which struck down each Nissite standing by the fence, leaving them immobile.
Several quiet minutes passed before anyone dared make a move.
Nate was the first who dared to investigate. Venturing out from behind the burning bush, he moved hastily toward the fence and looked upon the Nissites, all of whom were motionless. Reaching down and checking one of them for a pulse, he found the creature dead.
"It looks okay," Nate shouted. He then gestured to the Leshers, pointing at the Nissites and waving his hand across his throat, saying they were deceased.
Leaving his unconscious wife with Private Pierce, Nester rushed over to the doorstep and checked on the Hissars. Haushina wasn't breathing, and had two holes burned into her chest. Grior was still alive, but his breathing was shallow, and he had some nasty burns on his right side.
Nester found his strength insufficient to carry his friend away from the house, just as small pieces of burning tar began to trickle down from the roof. Rushing to his aid, Pierce's added muscle allowed them to drag Hissar away from the flaming building.
With Doctor Hissar safe, Nester and Pierce returned to the flaming bush to carry Grisha. As both men grabbed hold of the young woman, she finally awoke, peaceful and still slightly delirious from her physical ordeal.
"What have I missed?" she asked with a smile.
"I'll fill you in later," Nester assured her, rushing away from the flaming structure which was ready to collapse.
Nate was busy picking up the Nissites' weapons when he noticed Triski's unconscious body leaning against the picket fence. He quickly checked, and found her alive. The fence had blocked much of the blast, and left her relatively unharmed.
Turning to Edri, Nate saw the Nissite's eyes staring up at him from the sidewalk. Kneeling over the furry body, Nate stared back with a vindictive smile. Neither man said a word, but their faces spoke volumes.
The arrogance remained in Edri's eyes, and in his mind there lingered a fierce hatred and shame at being defeated by a lesser being. The face slowly went limp, and the eyes glazed over as life trickled from his body, and death claimed the man.
Nudging the body with the toe of his boot, Nate felt a deep sense of satisfaction and pride at having defeated this egotistical alien that had sought his extermination. In some small way, his comrades from the George Mason had been avenged and could rest easy.
By now, a large crowd of gawkers had come out of their homes to view Hissar's house ablaze. The upper-class Leshers of the suburban neighborhood stared in disbelief at the alien creatures on the sidewalk.
"What has transpired here?" a fat man from the crowd asked.
Nate couldn't understand, but Nester heard the man's question and jumped up from behind the fence to reply. "These alien Nissites attacked us, and set fire to Doctor Hissar's home. They killed his wife, and many other Leshers who dared resist their dominance!"
"You're wearing Mackelton loyalist colors," another man from the crowd mentioned, seeing the uniform Nester had on.
"Yes, I can explain..."
"Are you here to save us from the Sanctifier's troops?" a lady asked.
"Are we going to be free to work again? To walk the streets?" someone else asked.
The voices from the crowd quickly merged together in a clatter, as each spoke up, asking questions they hoped they knew the answer to.
"Calm down," Nester said, trying to quiet the crowd. As they silenced, he continued. "Help is on the way. Mackelton forces, led by Field Marshal Bahn, are on the way, and help will be coming from beyond the stars to eliminate the Sanctifier's Nissite puppet masters. We will live in fear no longer. We are Free Leshers of United Lazzeriach. Let's start acting like it."
"What shall we do?" a member of the crowd asked.
"Take up arms, and fight the sanctifier's supporters. Kill every one you see, and drive them into the ocean, until our country is free of their oppressive presence once and for all. Are you with me?"
The crowd cheered exuberantly, and moved on, slowly dispersing into their various homes to retrieve weaponry and spread the word of rebellion.
Nester grinned with pleasure at his own words, and was prepared to rush off and lead the charge himself, until Grisha tugged at his leg.
"Nes, enough playing soldier. I'm starving," she said softly.
Her words brought him back down to reality, and he found his concerns lay elsewhere.
The End... For Now.
*The Star Slavers, Copyright 2009-2011 by Martin T. Ingham. All Rights Reserved.