Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

Agent Rockton was all on his own here in the heart of the city. He appeared no more than a shadow, creeping stealthily through twisting service alleys under the cover of the ink black night that hung perpetually above this remote rock that had at one time been a federation outpost.

He paused and held his breath, his back flat against a stone wall. He heard footsteps. This was good. It would only be one of the Mumphet people running this errand or that for its master Slug. Had Rockton heard the sucking sliming noise of one of the actual enemy approaching he would have had much more to deal with. He watched the short hairy being pass by, loping along with a sack of some supplies or other tossed over its shoulder. Poor buggers, they’d been enslaved for generations. He felt badly that so many Mumphets would have to perish as well when the shit hit.

Once in the clear he began to move again. Almost there now. His visor’s readout showed him that he was but meters from the city’s center, his ultimate destination. Might as well do it by the book. There ahead was a decorative fountain that spewed stale smelling brackish water. That was ground zero.

After a quick scan he stole across the open square and then dove to the wet pavement and rolled into the shadow of the fountain’s edge. He procured the receiver from his backpack and slid it as far as he could under the stony lip of the fountain, then engaged the timer. The 10:00 hours began to tick backward. That was what he had, ten short hours to make it on foot, out of the city and across kilometers of rough terrain to a safe distance from the blast.

As he slid out and stood up he heard a click behind him. He froze, and heard the unmistakable sound of a Mumphet grunting into a universal translator. The words in Common were instant and mechanical. “I have a high caliber energy weapon aimed at your back. I must warn my master, you have done something. What is it you’ve put under the fountain?”

Rockton held his hands out, fingers splayed. He spoke into his own translator and was honest and direct. “You’d be wiser to go get any family you want to save and leave this city at once.”

“Turn around intruder.”

Rockton turned to face his short hairy assailant. He could tell the young Mumphet was scared.

Yet it raised its weapon threateningly and asked, “Is it a bomb?”

“No my friend. It is a teleportation receiver, but in a few short hours it will bring a thermonuclear device that will destroy everything here. The people who are sending it are far away, in another star system. They can’t be stopped, and the receiver cannot be turned off. Heed my words, get your family and run.”

The Mumphet was not quite convinced. “What if I just shoot you and then smash it to bits?”

“You can’t smash it; heck you can’t even move it. It’s held in place by wormhole forces, it would be easier to move the whole planet.”

Suddenly the Mumphet stepped back and said, “You know there are other Slug cities on other planets; this won’t get them all.”

“I know,” Rockton replied. “But it’s a hell of a good start.”

The Mumphet smiled. “I’d love to converse further, but I need to rescue my family.” And with that he turned and disappeared into the night.

Rockton began to make his way out of the city.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows