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OF ITS TRACKS AS IT WAS HIT B Y A B RIGHT B LAST OF FIRE. Though each me mber of the family had
their hands upâ€"nine in allâ€"two of them caught a red beam to the face and had a bright, burning hole blown
through their foreheads before they collapsed onto the hardwood floor. Smo ke b illowed up fro m the back of their
scorched skulls, and a smell like overcooked meat and burnt hair enveloped the living room. Sold iers burst through
the door‟s fiery opening, the soldier in the front a tall, muscular man, with a beard and mustache that covered most
of his face. His hair was thick and blac k, h is eyes were dark, and what was visib le of h is face looked strong.
“There‟s someone not quite human being hidden in this residence! That‟s why I am here! This person is
believed to have been here for the last year! What I will need fro m you ladies and gentlemen, is to point out who it
is, and right now! Now, my na me is Mehdi, and I need you to get ON YOUR KNEES!”
The family obliged, falling to their knees as if collapsing, their hands up and their palms facing forward.
Fifteen laser rifles were a imed at the front of their heads, each soldier visibly e xc ited about their new acquisitions.
Some surely had itchy trigger fingers, wa it ing for someone to ju mp and do something sudden.
One hundred thousand units transferred via palm-phone for these acquisitions and half the soldiers in my
squad are ill-equipped to use them. Twenty long range laser snipers, fifty electro-pellet blasters, fifteen laser AK’s
with the stippled grip, and ten multi-shot, triple barreled shotguns, stolen by Aldo’s soldiers three days ago, leaving
us with this quality, but unfamiliar option purchased at the last minute. So many weapons lost and so much money
spent thank s to Aldo. There will be longer training sessions after tonight, fifty hours a week , if we can find the time.
Of course, I might have to lighten the flock by then. A quick toss off the edge of our home platform will be the means
of doing that. Of course, I’ll have to deal with an explanation to some of the surviving members, and Mina, I’ll have
to tell her. She’ll want to know that I’m not just killing indiscriminately. She’ll wantâ€"
“Boss, what are we doing?”
Mehdi blin ked. He ca me bac k to the present, saw his soldiers in their blac k fatigue uniforms and their laser-
rifles aimed squarely at the foreheads of the family me mbers
“All right,” Mehdi said, and pointed to the stairs. “Make sure all the rooms on the top floor are empty.”
Two of the fifteen soldiers ran up the stairs with the barre ls of their weapons out in front of them.
“All right, ladies and gentlemen, I promise this will be quick. Now, where is the humanoid?” He stepped
forwa rd, and his eyes slid over the family. One Blac k wo man looked about fifty, and one Hispanic woman, perhaps
seventy. There were three younger girls, each around ten give or take a year. A middle aged Hispanic man that was
probably husband to the woman in her fift ies. And a teenage boy, probably thirteen, biracia l. A ll the kids, probably
biracia l. But that told him nothing.
“Boss,” one of the soldiers said. “Toward the wall.”
Mehdi looked around and saw a glass case, and inside one Pulse Ray shotgun, and a scope, for long range
firing. The red bea m version. A very deadly, highly illegal, and e xtre me ly e xpensive weapon. Seventy thousand
units at least. Mehdi‟s lips broke into a smile.
“I‟d ask if someone‟s collecting, but I don‟t see any other firearms in here,” Mehdi said, stepping over to
the glass case and admiring the fine feat in robotic engineering. Everything in the year 2146 was built by robots. He
strolled back to his original place, and looked at the family. His eyes were alight. “So who is the owner of that fine
piece of weaponry?” None of the family members looked at him, but each kept their hands in the air. “Who has the
access in this family to acquire such a firearm? Th is is Alias -77 afte r all, the platform with the fewest illegal
firearms on the street. The weapon contained behind that glass is highly illegal. It was made or purchased. I don‟t
think you have the means to purchase such a piece of machinery.”
The fa mily re ma ined silent. Ten seconds passed before Mehdi raised his right index finger, his e xpression
indifferent, and pointed it at the middle -aged Hispanic man. A split second later a loud whistle sounded, and the
back of his head erupted as a thin laser tore through it. Blood splashed on the white sofa, and his body leaned back
and lay half against the sofa he‟d dirt ied. His head lo lled. A thin trickle of drool depended fro m the corner of his wet
lips. The middle-aged wo man screamed, her old, seamed hands going up to her mouth. The girls and the boy began
to cry.
“I‟ll make it simple,” Mehdi said, scratching at the section of beard on the right side of his face. “Point out
the humanoid in this residence and I take my men and we leave.” The cries continued. They gave no response. The
ladyâ€"apparently, the wifeâ€"threw her body upon the dead man. The others kept their attention on Mehdi.
Not bad. The team seems calm. The team might be ready for missions beyond this.