William C. Dietz
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For years, only the thinnest barrier kept the II Ronnian Empire from attacking mankind. Then, space pirates stole the Vial of Tears--a holy Ronnian relic with cosmic religious powers. Only one man can hunt down the sacred relic and avert interstellar war--bounty hunter supreme Sam McCade.
one of the testing will be out of the way." "Or I'll be dead," McCade answered as he fastened the last seal on his cool suit. The long train ride had left him tired and grumpy. After the train trip he'd been transferred here, to the Wa'na, or sacred testing grounds. He was in a rather Spartan dressing room at the moment. The only furnishings consisted of an Il Ronnian water shrine and a table heaped high with weapons. The shrine was a scaled biosphere that depicted a natural spring bubbling up
target. Number one paused at the edge of the open area clearly hesitant to cross it. But number two gave her a shove and she stumbled forward, almost falling before regaining her balance. And number two was right behind her as she ran from one scrap of cover to the next, his weapon centered on her back. McCade found himself wishing for a cigar and forced the thought away. It was time to reduce the odds a little. He seated the rifle butt against his right shoulder, flicked the safety off, and
taken, you will count the vacant points encircled by your warriors, and subtract the number lost through capture. The individual with the most points wins." "Capture?" McCade asked. "How does that work?" "A good question," Teeb answered approvingly. "When two or more of your opponent's warriors occupy adjacent positions on a vertical or horizontal line, they are considered a sept and can be captured when encircled by your stones. As long as one of its members adjoins a vacant intersection the
no, sir. Captain Oeem has done an excellent job of stating my case." McCade nodded. "All right then. I will withdraw to consider the evidence. When I return I will render my verdict. You may return to your seats." As McCade stood and made his way across the rock ledge and into the cave he heard a growing murmur behind him. Twenty thousand Il Ronnians were discussing the case. What would the human decide? A good question, and one he'd like an answer to as well. It felt strange to enter the
thumping sound and no one chose to look back. Their entrance into Sappo's quarters was almost anticlimactic. As the door hissed open they were ready for anything, but rather than armor-clad troops a domestic robot rolled forward to greet them. Its synthesized voice was stern and unyielding. "Please leave. Your presence is not wanted here. I will summon help if necessary. Please leave…" The robot never got to repeat its warning because Reba put her hand blaster up against its metal forehead and