The rain outside had turned into a light drizzle it was taking a short break to contemplate my fate. I stood in the entrance for a couple of minutes watching Convenient Lee do his work. The old man did greet me with the briefest nod and then continued to stack his incredibly good value for money processed food into the shelves. He took one packet of 'I can't believe it's not organic! (TM)' Noodles with Duck, held it in one hand while staring intently at the shelve in front of him. He stroked his wispy bread a couple of times until he made a satisfied grunt and put the packet into its rightful place. This seemed a good moment to interrupt the old man in his work.
'Yes, Kane-sensei?' he did not turn to me but took an Ethical Food (TM) Full Vegan Turtle Burger again regarding the shelve in front of him with the deepest gravity.
'I have come to withdraw a deposit from your vaults and while I am at it I would also like to purchase a few choice items.'
'Of course. Kane-sensei. I shall retrieve. Your item most rapidly.' he put the not really turtle back and shuffled back to his counter. Midway he pause and without turning around he added. 'Ah. Kane-sensei. The extra items. You need. Are they Special equipment?' The capital S and the eyes in the back of Convenient Lee's head looked meaningfully in my direction and waggled their eye-brows.
'Actually, yeah. I do need a gun... for self protection.' Wasn't even a lie.
'I see. A gun.' He shuffled on. 'And what kind of. Gun. Did you. Have in mind? Mr. Kane.' more wriggling metaphor eye brows and Lee's usual shift into another Asian accent.
'Hmmm. I was thinking of something fancy. Something that will hopefully impress a ruffian enough to see wisdom in pacifism and failing that will impress all his internal organs. But it should be small, robust and easy to use.' I thought about what I had just asked for adding 'And if magic wands are sold out I'd also take a pistol of some sort.'
'Ah. But Mr. Kane. I do have. Various. Guns that are very much like what you. Are looking for.' He passed behind the counter of his store. The sound of metal grinding on stone spilled over the counter and Convenient Lee began to, step by step, sink behind it. Only his head was still visible when he turned to me looking rather like a severed head. 'Please excuse my rudeness. But what price range where you. Thinking off. Mr. Kane?'
'Oh money. I don't care about money.' true as my empty bank account new all to well. 'The price is of no consequence to me.' the shop keepers eyebrows contemplated for a moment to move up the brow as a sign of pleased surprised but after some half hearted attempts decided to stay where they where. 'Very well Mr. Kane. Very. Well.' and the head disappeared.
While Lee was in his fabled vaults I paced through the store thinking of what I was actually going to do now. I did have a plan of sorts. One that was one step ahead from run like an overexcited idiot into the next group-meeting of professional leg-breakers. But so far it was mostly getting all my resources which consited of one very special container, buy a gun and then run away like a really nervous idiot. Whoever wanted me dead wanted it with a lot of enthusiasm. The Finnish Finish was one of the most expensive hit-men in the Solar system. But that was probably not all of it. According to Matikainen the security guards in the space ports where bought off. No reason to doubt that. By extension that meant that there was a bounty on my head. I knew enough about my official guide to the underworld to know that Matikainen always only took a small percentage of his money in advance and that he did not claim the money if someone got his quarry first. This meant that depending on how fast the news spread I would have most cheap leg breakers on Europa looking for me. If I was not very careful now I'd end up in a black sedan with a bag over my head only to get tortured to death tied to a chair in some abandoned warehouse.
I was still inventing colourful deaths when Convenient Lee's head reappeared, dragging the old man behind it. The dramatic trap door closed with theatrical noise while Lee put several black cases on top of his counter. One was larger than all the others. A massive black carrying case was longer than it was wide or high. That was my special resource. The others looked more or less like briefcases. The guns.
'Do you wish to check your. Deposit. Kane-sensei?'
'No. I trust you Mr. Lee.' that and the knowledge that tampering with my personal treausre would lead to a serious case of explosion.
'Very well then Kane-sensie. I have here several. Magic. Wands.' he divided the brief cases into three stacks. 'What do you prefer. Something classic. Perhaps. With the smell of cordite. And the tinkeling of spent cases?' he lay his hand on the left stack.
'What do I look like? The circus?'
'No respect for. Our cultural roots. Mr Kane?' his voice ladden with disappointment he shoved away the stack. of weapons.
'Yeah sorry about that. And before you ask I'll skip the cross-bows too.'
'Also. You are not funny.' I was also not impressed.
'How about something self propelled? Very high damage. Intelligent bullets. Once locked-on they will follow their quarry around corners.' he almost forgot his accent over this. 'Like blood hounds!' saved.
'Tempting. How is the rate of fire?'
'With guns as portable as this, low. But who needs rate of fire when bullets explode?'
'Nah. I think I'll pass.' it sounded nice but also like something that came with a thick manual.
'I want something quiet.'
And that was the middle stack gone. Another sad shake of the head.
'Well, I hope you like. The next choice.'
Me too if that last stack had similar drawbacks as the others I might have to resort to throwing almost real turtle burgers and hopping that my would be murderers where feeling peckish.
'Here I have weapons that are: fast, very quiet and robust. But also. Expensive!'
'Mr. Lee', being rich was like taking to many drugs, you never forget how to do it. 'Price is of no consequence. Give me the best you have.'
Lee regarded me for a moment. The moment drew longer as he considered my words, as it was growing all long and thin I started to worry that it might snap. I pulled out a bundle of Credits and placed them on the counter, letting the money and my meaningful glance do the talking.
'I see.' another one of those noodly moments.
Finally Convenient Lee pushed the third stack to the side and pulled out two other cases from behind the counter. One of them was made of what looked like wood. Like in dead trees. I tried very hard not to swallow. If that really was orgnic would the case alone was worth more than the entire building I lived in. I was suddenly not so sure if price was not a topic. At least the other case was just made of polished aluminum which gave it a sophisticated aura without suggesting a six figure price tag.
'Well Kane-sensei. Here we have a Steiner-Vargas Rail Pistol.' he put his hand on the wooden case. He opened it to reveal a long heavy looking gun that looked like a futuristic version of an 19th century duelling gun. A gun with a wooden handle, mother of pearl inlays and tiny brass gauges. The manufacturer's name was embossed into the barrel in an elegant cursive script. The weapon had such an high class air surrounding it that it would probably kill the poor and the unsophisticated with its disdain for their insulting existence.
'Made on Earth in Europe' Lee was now all infomertial his hands gesturing fluidly with each word 'With the barrel and the mechanical parts assembled by hand in Toledo. Just look! Kane-sensei. The barrel made of layer upon layer of different alloys to make it perfect. It has its gravity dampener enmeshed into the material. Very impressive!' Great. I bet it also read the Times every morning and could hold conversation in 5 languages. 'It uses liquid metal as ammo. Injected into the barrel and there hardened into preciesly the slug that you need. That very moment.'
'So how robust is it?' I asked.
'Quite. This is top Earth quality.'
'So if I shoot five murderers in the gut and then go and use it to clobber two rapists to death with the barrel and use it as a weight on the end of a rope to use it as a grappling hook? Would it still work?'
Lee looked at me and closed the case.
'I suppose the next. Weapon. Is more suitable to your. Style. Mr. Kane.'
He thumped the polished aluminium case with his fist. Opening it and revealed a huge hunk of metal to which someone had welded a pistol grip. If the gun had been a man it would have been one with ridges on his forehead big enough to shade his eyes from the summer sun. His head would be the tapered end of a missile shaped body. And his fists, as big as angry bowling balls would smash rock into sand.
It was perfect.
'Yes. Very crude. Very low-tech. But also very, very powerful. Very reliable. This is also from Earth. From the Russian Federation. It is a Chekhov. Used by law-enforcement. Military. And criminals. A like. Not very elegant. A gun like a tank.'
'And do you sell an enhanced soldier to carry it for me too?'
'Ah. Mr. Kane. You are still not funny. Also. This weapon is very well developed. Has slide-on gravity dampeners on the barrel. Take them off. No one will be able to steal your gun. To heavy. Put them on and they will make it as light as a feather. Modular built. One part breaks? Take out and replace. Want bigger calibre. Exchange barrel. This. This gun. This is what you search for.'
'OK. How much?'
'For you Kane-sensei. 15.000 Credits.'
'Deal. How much ammo has it?.'
'Has a metal bar that will provide 100 shots. It comes with two replacements. But this is a Chekhov, made for the field of battle. You can put most magnetic metals into the feeding chamber. The gun can convert them.'
'I'll take it. How much do I owe you for keeping an eye on my little treasure over there?'
'Two and a half thousand'
17.500 Credits later I stepped back into the rain.
In one hand I had the large black evil looking case with my one and only trump and in the other the briefcase with my new pistol. The drizzle enveloped me like a gentle undertaker, instantly covering with its cold sheet. I was almost instantly soaked again, apart from my right hand. I looked down and saw that the gun case was surrounded by a faint blue halo. It had an inbuilt rain shield. Damn. My gun had a higher standard of living than me.
It was time to find me a shifty hotel in The Drain and it was time to find myself a fallen God and teach it how to talk.