Penny’s wrists were cable-tied together in front of her and the remaining androids hauled her aboard the bandit’s ship. They set her down in the cargo bay next to Sheriff Rose. Elena came over to them, carrying a weapon that looked like tricked-out children’s water soaker. She pulled a hairspray-sized can of chemical solvent out of the glop gun’s stock and sprayed the ball of glop on the Sheriff’s chest. Bristol stood to one side, his own rifle trained on the Sheriff in case she so much as sneezed. As the solvent began turning the hard glop into a puddle of mush Elena reached into the mush and pulled out the assault rifle, then the Sheriff’s wrists were cable-tied and the two women were hauled to their feet.
They saw Wu standing to one side, his own hands tied in front of him. Penny and the Sheriff were lead at gun point to the space next to him. “Great.” Wu said. “The gang’s all here.”
“Yes.” Mad Mac McCarty smiled as he joined them in the cargo hold. “I must say it is nice to have all three of you trouble-makers in the one place.”
“Why are you doing this?” asked Penny, straining against her cable-ties. “If you’re only going to shoot us anyway why take us alive?”
“Oh yes, that.” Mac replied. “Not my choice little lady. It’s just that my employer done uttered the six most frustrating words in the english language.”
“I pronounce you man and wife?” The Sheriff asked.
Mac smiled. “I like her, she’s funny. No Ms Rose, the phrase to which I refer is ‘Make it look like an accident’. Seems my employer wants to avoid an entire constabulary hunting for some cop-killers. So’s I gotta get a little ‘creative’.”
Mac looked to one side to use his nanoputer. “Wat. Take us up.”
Then he grimaced for a moment and turned to Bristol. “Bristol, get up to the bridge and tell Wat to take us up, his comm’s acting up again.”
“A’rright Mac.” Bristol glared at the captives one more time and then disappeared up the main corridor.
Mac shouted after him “Oh and get the Doc down here, our captives need a physical.”
“I’m already here Captain.” A dark, snooty, male voice said from another corridor.
Penny turned towards the voice and saw a severe-looking young man with slicked-back hair and a pair of round sunglasses.
While the engines fired up and the ship rose into the air, the Doc took out a mediscanner and proceeded to scan each of the captives. Finally he declared. “Nothing beyond some simple scrapes and bruises.”
“Good work Doc.” Mac said, he’d been about to go on talking when the Doc said.
“Yes that was some expert medical diagnostics, I don’t know how you survive without me. May I go back to the infirmary now?”
Mac turned an annoyed head towards the Doc. “In a sec, I might need the extra hands.”
The Doc bristled at Mac but said nothing.
By now the ship was back at level with the roof of the canyon. “Now.” Mac began. “First we’re going to blow a chunk of rock off that ledge there with our trusty anti-ship munitions. Elena.”
Elena handed the Doc her gun, while he and Mac covered the captives Elena picked up a missile launcher from its place by a crate and put a shot into the wall of the canyon, breaking loose a chunk of rock and sending it crashing down to the canyon floor.
“Now we’re going to throw you ladies off the ramp, shoot your friend Wu in the head there and leave the missile launcher on the canyon floor next to his corpse. It’s not really an ‘accident’ I’ll grant you but it does tie up all your deaths in a neat little bow.”
Mac grabbed Penny’s bound hands and yanked her towards him. “Seeing as how the rest of us are all peripherals, let’s start with miss Ranger here. Have ourselves a bit of a laugh before we dispose of the rest of you.”
Penny ground her teeth and went over the tactical situation for the hundredth time. She still couldn’t think of a course of action that didn’t get all of them killed. But strangely that became less of an issue every time Mac opened his mouth.
Mac walked Penny out to the loading ramp, turning his back on the rest of them for a moment.
Then, just like Jet Yun Chan, Wu pulled a tiny monofilament line from the cuff of Jie’s jacket and effortlessly sliced through his restraints. Elena saw him do it, but by the time she’s discarded her rocket launcher Wu was upon her. A pecking fist to her left ribs, backhand to the chin and ridgehand strike to the collar later and her body seized up and collapsed. Before full paralyse took her Elena managed to grumble out an annoyed. “Not again.”
Mac peeked over his shoulder to see what all the racket was about and Penny made her own move. Grabbing at Mac’s gun hand Penny put her hips under him and threw him over her and back into the cargo bay.
The Doc fiddled with the glop gun, trying to bring it to bear at Penny when Sheriff Rose hit him with a push-kick that knocked him tumbling down the loading ramp and out into the open air.
Brook whipped a throwing knife from her belt and hurled it at the Sheriff.
The Sheriff quickly pulled her head out of the way, losing only a few inches of hair as it sailed past.
Brook drew her machete but before he could charge at the Sheriff Wu bravely got between them and threw a jab at her head.
Then Bristol stormed down the corridor with his rifle in his hands. Sheriff Rose saw him coming and tried to get out of his way when he levelled his weapon at her and fired a hammer-shot.
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