TANSTAAFL except today! Today, you can receive a Special Christmas (or your favorite holiday) gift from Doc. December 19th through December 21st you can get a free e-book copy of Demeter at Amazon. What’s the catch? No catch. All we ask is that if you like the book write a review.
For a warm-up:
The next problem was how to overpower six armed kidnappers if they came to a confrontation. Ryder had never fired a weapon, not even a BB Gun. Randy and Joel both had been training in the robot units, but they had no robot units to work with, and the computerized systems of those units gave them no preparation for using a hand weapon. Joel suggested they take swords from Hondo’s collection. Hondo scoffed. “You might as well throw rocks. You don’t know how to use them.” Nevertheless, he pulled down a scabbard holding a short, curved, thick blade, pulled the blade out, and swished it back and forth a few times, showing a menacing smile as he did so.
The final disposition of weapons was an odd mixture. Margaret and Hondo each carried pistols. Hondo’s pistol was a Colt .45. It looked natural and appropriate in his hand. “You should see those bullets fly in this lower gravity,” he almost gushed. Hondo also wore his scabbard that he carried his saber in. He looked more like a pirate than a cowboy with the combination.
Margaret pulled out an elegant handgun and turned toward Hondo. It was compact, and as Margaret explained, “Semi-automatic and more bullets than in that piece of iron you haul around.” By then Hondo was strapping a gun belt filled with two dozen extra bullets.
Margaret outfitted Ryder and Joel with something that looked like a tuning fork.
“What are we supposed to do with this?” Ryder looked incredulous.
“Oh, right, you probably don’t have these back on Earth yet. Slow decade for technology thieves,” Hondo responded.
“You’ve not heard of these on Earth, but they’re called Tasers,” Margaret volunteered. “Just point at your target and press the handle here,” She pointed at a safety-covered button. “You slide the safety up like this, and then you can press the button, aiming the prongs at your target. It’s not fatal, but it sends an electrical charge that totally disables your opponent.”
“Shoots about eighty thousand volts,” Hondo added.
“What’s wrong?” Margaret looked at the grins on Ryder and Joel’s faces.
“We’ve had Tasers on Earth for several years. The police use them all the time instead of guns.”
Hondo scowled. “Yup, danged techno thieves. We got to stop letting those Terran pups come up here.”
Ryder apologetically added, “They’re not nearly as cool as these are though.”
Margaret warned, “Be sure of what you’re shooting at. You only get one shot with that. We’ll take you out back to try it before we go. You can recharge them while we’re flying.”
Hondo looked long and hard at Randy. “You know those computer simulations with those robot units make killing seem easy and even fun sometimes. I don’t have any robot units, but if you think you can actually kill someone with one of these”—he pulled down a long, sharp knife with a curved edge along with a case that could slide onto a belt—“I’ll let you take Uncle Bowie. Be warned, killing somebody with a knife is not easy, and it is not fun. You think you have the stomach for it?”
Randy swallowed hard. “I really don’t know. But I’d still like to bring it just in case. If we’re desperate, maybe I can.”
“So be it.” Hondo gave Randy a hard smile, but Margaret looked unsettled.
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