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move his head from the autopistol. As the elevator door closed, Vance rapped the gun butt across the Drazi's head. The thick skull absorbed most of the blow, causing the Drazi to stagger but not fall down. Another strike sent him to the ground.

Vance realised he couldn't use the autopistol on any of the Drazi, even just to wound them. The autopistol was a burst fire weapon, shooting several rounds with every pull of the trigger. Even if he tried to shoot a target in the arm, the danger of a stray round hitting a vital organ, or a bystander, was too great.

With that in mind, Vance stepped from the elevator onto the third floor, gun held ready to threaten anyone waiting for him. He was relieved to find nobody there. Again he walked along the corridor, watching for any signs of movement. The chance of him hearing anyone approaching were nil with the sound of the internal alarm singing its monotonous tone.

As he marched down the corridor, a door to his right opened. Vance stopped, allowing the militiaman to walk out and see him holding the autopistol. Without a word, the Drazi raised his hands. 'Take me to the comms room,' ordered Vance, raising his voice above the alarm. With a nod the Drazi turned, keeping his hands in the air and marching toward the end of the corridor. He opened a door on the left and flicked the light switch. A blow to the back of the Drazi's neck put him down. Vance wondered if the autopis-tol would still fire straight after pummelling so many hard Drazi skulls.

The interstellar comms unit was a basic design, but Vance was sure he could find a relevant frequency on it. Within seconds he had found the correct coordinates and, using the Drazi cipher, sent an encrypted message: a simple call for help, straight and to the point. Hopefully nearby
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