Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

Tesla shielding is a magnificent thing. Invented in the early Twentieth by the crackpot Serbian inventor Nicola Tesla, it absorbs tremendous amounts of energy harmlessly. A suit sized generator can withstand several plasma bursts or hundreds of micro meteor hits before the unit is overloaded. But they don’t do well against slow moving, low energy objects, such as an errant spanner, a lump of ore accidentally dislodged or … a bullet.

I was on an infrequent visit dirtside. I had only been back to Mars three times in twenty years. Twice for funerals. I don’t know why, I can’t raise the dead… too expensive.

This time was business. I had come in person to sign a contract with Belt Foundries Amalgamated for a massive find. I had to beat Dieter “Gritty” Schmidt to file my claim. The Sonuvabitch had been jumping me for the past ten years. I was damned if I’d let him get this one.

After filing, I wandered into an antique shop. Knives are handy when prospecting and I could always find a cheap supply at these old junk shops. I was sorting through a tray of rusty blades when an object on a nearby shelf caught my eye.

“What the hell is that,” I asked, stabbing a grimy finger at the thing. It was roughly shaped like a blaster, but looked metallic.

“This,” said the pawnbroker pulling the object out as if it were the Holy Grail itself, “is a .357 Colt Python. In the parlance of the time, a “GUN”.

I took the piece. It was damned heavy for a weapon. “Stainless steel,” he said, reading my mind.

“Where’s the power supply?”

“There isn’t one. It’s a chemical reaction weapon.”

“No Shit. So a personal T field…”

“Won’t even slow the projectile down.”

“How much,” I grinned.

I returned to my claim via a rather circuitous route. I came in out of Jupiter so the gas giant’s radiation would hide my ships signature. Sure enough, there was Gritty’s ship and there was Gritty nosing around my claim. I opened a broadband link.

“Hey asshole, what the hell are you doing poking’ around my ‘roid.”

“Hello Mike. Nothing wrong with checking out a lucrative prospect is there?”

“You know damn well it’s mine. I already filed. Look it up. It’s posted.”

“I was just being neighbourly. Just thought I’d stop by and see if you needed a hand.”

I popped out of the airlock and blasted his ship a couple of times with my plazer. That would get his attention.

“What, the hell…?”

Sure enough, he pulled his plazer and drew down on me. Just for fun, I popped his head with a quick burst. His T field held, but it sure pissed him off. He launched a string of profanities and let me have it several times with his own plazer, expectin’ me to turn tail for my ship. I stood my ground and pulled out my antique Python, levelling it at him.

“What the hell is your major malfunction boy?”

“Just this,” I said, and unloaded all six rounds into his suited figure. I watched the delicate ballet as his body spun, issuing a plume of scarlet from his breached suit. I watched his body became smaller and smaller as it drifted away from me. Then it hit me. In my haste for revenge, I hadn’t secured a tether.

A quick thought ran through my mind, “For every action…”

“SON OF A BITCH… If anybody ever hears this transmission, I have one thing to say. ‘NEWTON’S A DICK!’”

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