Penny dropped another android with a spear shot and popped back down behind cover. The ammo counter in her AR vision showed only two spear-shots worth of rounds left. Penny released the barrel assembly on her rifle and began swapping out her empties for fresh ones.
“They’re boxing us in.” Sheriff Rose shouted from across the gap.
“We’ll have to make a break for it.” Penny said.
Sheriff Rose shook her head. “I’m not in the mood to get shot in the back.”
Penny slipped a grenade from the pouch on her belt. “I’ll pop smoke. Ready?”
The bandit’s ship cleared the edge of the canyon and began hovering directly above their position.
Mad Mac McCarty’s voice thundered over the loudspeaker. “Hello Ladies, this is your outlaw speaking. I’ve still got twelve good fighting androids with rifles down in that there canyon with you and a half-dozen beady-eyed killers on this ship with me, some of whom are particularly eager to put you in their sights. More importantly I have two gentlemen I have reason to believe are rather important to the both of you. I think you can see where I’m going with this.”
Sheriff Rose turned to Penny. “What do we do? They might kill Jie and Wu.”
Penny didn’t take her eyes off the ship. “We surrender to them and we’re all dead.”
“So like I said: What do we do?”
Penny set the smoke grenade to high yield and popped it. Their position filled rapidly with black smoke, including trace elements of infrared particles, electro-reflective chaff and other sensor-defeating substances.
“Go to ground.” Penny ordered, dropping to the floor and sighting up with her rifle. For the moment the smoke was less thick at the bottom of the cloud, but the electronic counter measures in the smoke would be playing havoc with the android’s sensors. Penny sighted up on the first confused-looking robot and put a spear-shot through it before sighting up on another one and doing the same. Next to her the Sheriff fired her own spear and Penny saw a third android fall.
But the cloud above them was growing thicker and even down to their naked eyes they wouldn’t have visibility for long.
Penny kept looking for targets until a loud, liquid ‘Glop’ sound splashed next to her. She turned towards it and saw what looked like a freeze-framed image of a drop of milk hitting a kitchen floor.
Penny recognised the anti-riot weapon immediately. The balls of glop would splash on its target and harden almost instantly, holding rioters in place or splashing on weapons and making them impossible to use.
A second later, Penny heard another ‘glop’ splash down next to her.
“Get up.” Penny yelled. She grabbed her last smoke grenade from its place and hurled it out into the canyon. “Move to cover, I’ll try and take out that sniper.”
Sheriff Rose nodded, despite the opacity of the smoke and ran out towards the new emerging cloud.
Penny followed but stopped at the first cloud’s edge and aimed up. Above her, peering over the side of the loading ramp Elena was trying to get a bead on the fleeing Sheriff.
She glanced down just in time to see Penny sight up on her.
Penny opened up with a long burst, the bullets pinging harmlessly off the ship’s hull as Elena yanked herself out of the way.
Penny held her fire a moment and kept her sights on the loading ramp. As soon as Elena dared stick her head around the side again she’d get her right between the eyes.
To Penny’s surprise the next thing she saw was Brook leap off the loading ramp and onto the canyon roof around them.
Running headlong for the next cloud of smoke brought Sheriff Rose into the fields of fire of the last remaining labour androids. Sheriff Rose saw them snap their rifles up at her and dived for the nearest bit of cover, a swallow dip in the canyon floor. As a hail of bullets tore up the stone around her, Sheriff Rose flattened herself as thinly as she could in the dip and waited for the shooting to stop.
When a moment’s quiet finally could be heard she stuck the barrel of her rifle above the dip and squeezed out a double-tap. Responding to the stimuli the androids opened fire again. Peppering the ground around her with fire while she pulled her rifle back down.
Sheriff Rose grinned. “Keep it up automaton.”
Then without warning a ball of glop struck her in the gut, splashing over her arm and rifle and locking them in place.
“Ranger!” the Sheriff yelled.
Penny glanced across to where the Sheriff lay and saw the glop pinning her in place. Penny looked back up at the loading ramp and saw the edge of Elena’s barrel peering over it.
In the next moment she felt rippling electricity course through her body, starting at her left bicep where the armour was missing.
Penny crashed backwards onto the ground and saw Brook holding Penny’s own shock baton. Brook kicked Penny’s rifle out of her hand with her big black boots and smirked at her.
Penny heard the bandit’s ship set down in the box canyon again and swore under her breath.
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