Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

We were pretty much finished. A dozen seven-foot Parakti loomed over us, spewing their fowl breath past yellow fangs. The survivors huddled behind me, fourteen hungry women and children. They had all looked up to me for protection. Now?

The leader’s greenish black skin tightened over his frame as he struggled to make our speech. “Your children will be raised on slave farms. Honor decrees that the rest of you may speak your last words now.”

When I was but a boy I had once witnessed an eerily similar scene. I had been a scared waif hiding beneath some debris while the man protecting his small band of humans that day had been my father.

He had been a blacksmith, as tough as they came. And he laid down a challenge that day, something I had never seen before and have never seen since. The alien had had no choice but to accept. And my father was killed in seconds. Then I watched the slaughter of the other adults.

Now I stood taller than my father had once been, and I too had started life as a blacksmith. This was followed by a stint in special ops, which was followed by two tours of duty on the Parakti home world. These days I climbed die scrapers with a hunting axe on my back. I too was as tough as they came.

I closed my eyes and uttered the words I had heard so long ago. “By the spirit of Great Zatai, I question your honor Parakti.” The looming beasts all gasped and looked instantly to their superior. I went on, “You will not even grant your challenger xathoo before honorable unarmed combat, and me but a puny human?” I slapped my chest twice, another Parakti challenge.

The leader stepped forward, easily a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier. Now I could really feel his hot disgusting breath. “I never once said I would not grant you xathoo human. Now I grant you xathoo so make it quick!”

I did not hesitate. “If I win you let us go unharmed.”

The entire troop of Parakti broke out in their gurgling laughter.

“Granted!” shouted the leader as he swung his claws down at my face. And then suddenly I wasn’t there. Like I said, I was as tough as they came, hard as the nails I used to pound out by hand and just about as fast as anything alive.

Before he could whip around I was nearly behind him and by the time he finished his turn I popped up with five pummeling blows to his chin in less than a second. The alien reeled and that was all I needed. In less than a heartbeat I was five feet off the ground twirling my entire two hundred pounds, my foot whipping along like the projectile in a slingshot. The kick to the side of his giant cranium rang out like an old fashion gunshot. And even as he dropped like the ton of shit and slime that he was, I could see his yellow-green eyes flickering back to consciousness. And as I fell upon him his sharp claws swiped once more at my leg, but by the time they got there, there was only air. My other leg rammed downward, my knee cracking alien face bones. His body heaved one last time. I thrust my hand in and ripped his Parakti heart from the back of his throat, and held it up high… as the rest of them lowered their heads, and stepped aside to let us pass.


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