Skipping ahead in my story a little, there I was on a world frozen in time, with a stolen teleportation device called the Banesportal, my former boss from tax office after me. Rather his cronies were after me – in fact, the raw smell of ozone was coming from around the corner of the barn. I checked my bag of holding, and set the inside dial to safe mode, just in case.

For the space-time travelers who only use first-class transportation, certain portals give off an ozone odor when opened. Don’t ask me why, but I’ve been through enough of them to be something of an expert. And I’m a quick thinker too. So when waylaid on a strange planet with no hope of help in sight and bad guys on my tail, I know exactly what to do. Well, maybe not exactly, because the plan varies from time to time and place to place. Situational stuff. But the gist is always the same: fight or flight.

I took a seat on the tree stump at the top of the hill near the edge of the dense, dead-yet-amazingly-green forest, and crossed my arms around my chest. OITT officers, at least ten of them that I could see, spread out in the wheat field below, laser blasters pointing in random directions as they scanned their surroundings. Took them a little longer to spot me than I expected. Must be new recruits – I felt sorry for Gerald if this was the best he had to send after me. Things had been going downhill when I made my departure from OITT, I suppose there’s always something below the basement.

“Don’t move!” One of the newbies pointed his blaster straight at me. I smiled at him and waved. When you point a blaster directly at someone, you better be damn sure you want to kill. Otherwise you look like an idiot who’s only handled standard ammunition and ancient powder guns. I  prayed he had the safety on.

“Hello boys,” I waved them to come up the hill. “Glad you made it.”

“No funny business,” the newbie growled, his feet spread apart as he pointed the blaster uphill. “We can make this easy, or hard.”

I made the best mock expression of surprise and pointed at my chest. “Me? I won’t cause any trouble.”

“We’ve got you surrounded already. You’re under arrest for theft of an major artifact, pursuant to Regulation 95b, Subsection C.”

“Shucks, you caught me.” I held out my wrists. “But good luck finding the major artifact, whatever it is. It was destroyed in transit.”

The officer cocked one eye upward for a moment.

“I take you don’t really know what you’re looking for?”

He straightened his shoulders, arched his back, and held the blaster up a little higher than necessary. “We have our orders.”

“Orders?” I waved a finger at him. “Take some time to understand what you’re getting into next time. Look around. Do you really think this world always looks like this?”

“Sir,” the subordinates to his left said.

“Jones, not now.” He motioned at me. “Throw that bag on the ground here.”

“What, this?” I unslung my bag of holding and threw it underhanded to the officer. I hated to do that, only because the bag was the most valuable thing I possess. Better than getting lasered, or arrested, or facing Gerald, or some combination of all three.

“Jones,” the commander said and pointed with his foot to the bag. I waited on my tree stump, and tried not to wince. This was a new experience for me, to be honest, and I had hoped never to witness this. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going to happen.

Jones the subordinate switched off his blaster, tucked it under his arm, and knelt over my bag of holding. As soon as he picked it up, the bag cracked and burst in a cloud of black smoke. The commanding officer fell over and men came running to secure the area. In the confusion, I jumped off my stump and ran like hell to the cover of non-swaying trees. A quick look back I noticed Jones crawling out of the smoke. I was surprised he survived it, but maybe he payed attention in his basic training regarding surviving poison smokes. A few men were clearly caught off guard as the smoke dissipated and spread, and they were lying on the ground choking and wheezing.

So much for my treasure that was still in the bag. I’d have to come back for that.

To be continued…

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