“Come on in” one of the Gumbas casually invited them in the suite the next morning. He seemed much recovered from his ordeals. Buscemi was in good spirits too, sitting back from an amble breakfast. There were five places. That was interesting. Mackay wasn’t sure if Buscemi would eat with his lieutenants. He wasn’t certain what the social order was like within crime families. Gunny assured him, in some interesting detail, that April’s friend Eddie could tell him anything he wanted to know about La Cosa Nostra.
They decided to dress a little less aggressively this morning, and picked lower profile under armor instead of the higher grade stuff that rode on top. Neither did they have long guns, and although Hall had on the backpack auto-aiming gun, he’d thrown a light windbreaker over it and the snouts were laying curled on his shoulders like some strange necklace of black metal.
“I have some good news,” Buscemi informed them. “I was able to obtain some help from local friends and my boys are packing now. They will have a fellow at the outgoing shuttle to collect all the hardware, so we don’t need your services any longer.”
“If that is your judgment. Certainly our contract can be terminated at will. We do know local custom and have zero G skills, but if you think you’ll be Okay without us we’ll be going. If you’d just scan our fee to my pad we’re done with each other.”
“I’ll send it around when I’m back to my business offices,” Buscemi said waving it away as unimportant. “Shortened to one day instead of three of course.”
“No. We are due the three days we contracted even if you withdraw early. I insist,” Mackay said with no particular rancor, but firmly.
The fellow who must be the head gumba looked so sad and shook his head. “You don’t ‘insist’ with the Capo. It isn’t respectful,” he explained, spreading his palms like he was laying the matter before them to see.
Mackay wasn’t done talking yet, but the gumba to the left of Chen worried he might be and reached inside his jacket. Chen knew he wasn’t going to offer them gum, so he proceeded on the assumption they would be taking them all down.
Chen suddenly had a polymer covered iron rod in his right hand, coincidentally the same length as his forearm. He swung it backhand without even looking to the right. He’d checked the distance to that fellow when they all stopped moving and knew where he was. It smacked him across the forehead with a surprisingly soft >POCK!<. He folded limp as an over-cooked noodle.
The fellow drawing the gun was by this time showing some wrist again and Chen swung over hand with a will. The wrist made a much more satisfying crunch, and the gun fell to the floor. The silly boy leaned over trying to recover it left handed. Chen gave him an unhurried and restrained love tap above his ear so he joined his friend on the floor.
The chief gumba was caught by the movement with his hands spread wide gesturing to make his point to Mackay. He was far too slow anyway but that really left him in an awkward position to respond. By the time he had his hand on a pistol butt Gunny had stepped past Mackay and drawn and extended his Sig. It was cocked and his finger inside the guard and jammed under the man’s nose. He just pushed and walked him back against the bulkhead in three fast steps. He drew the pistol to the side and the man didn’t even try to duck. He just closed his eyes and grimaced. He backhanded him on the side of the head and there were three on the floor.
The junior most gumba was the smartest. He had both palms showing standing very still. Both the muzzles hanging over Hall’s shoulders had come alive like startled snakes, and were both pointing from each side directly at the fellow’s nose.
The whole action had taken a little less than four seconds.
“Are dollars Okay or would you like EuroMarks?” Buscemi asked, fumbling with his pad, sweat beading up on his flushed face.
“Dollars are fine.” Mackay swiped his com pad past the offered port, and checked the total carefully. “A free word of advice,” Mackay told the man mildly. “People on Home are different. There are very few sheep and victims to be found. I know a teenage boy on Home who has no military experience and you’d think he couldn’t walk out to buy a sandwich without getting rolled to look at him. The Chinese decided to steal one of his little space ships a month back. He dropped a fusion bomb on their spaceport rather than let them steal from him. Destroyed his ship and the main Chinese spaceport and a town of a million and a half people next to it. There’s a crater there now five or six kilometers across. If they had not backed down then I have no idea how many more he would have send down on their heads.”
“If you mess with Home you aren’t setting yourself up to avoid windows the rest of your life. You have to worry if they will find the house you are in and drop a Rod from God down the chimney, or if they know what neighborhood you are in they might decide a ten-kiloton warhead is a sufficiently surgical strike. If you really, really, piss them off they may decide Lake Michigan needs new big Chicago Bay on the South end.
“Why haven’t I heard that about China?” Buscemi reasonably asked. “Something that big should have been in the news.” He was much braver now that Mackay was talking, and it seemed he wouldn’t be shot out of hand.
“I believe the Chinese found it embarrassing,” Mackay explained. “If they publicly acknowledged it they lose face, and all the more so if they are impotent to respond to it. Yet even those crazies are not stupid enough to find out how many quarter-Billion megaton warheads they could absorb. I don’t imagine the USNA wants a story on the news that would make their people realize they only stay in power because some teenage boy hasn’t decided to give them the same treatment China got.”
“Yeah, yeah I can understand that. You look like you can’t hold your territory you’re done.”
“Go back to your territory,” Mackay advised him. “You know how things work there and fit in. You don’t understand things up here.”
“You got the families here too,” Buscemi objected.
“Yeah, and if I have to do business with them I’ll ask Eddie The Lip Persico how to deal with them. They may be in the same line you are but they are spacers now too.”
“Persico! Why didn’t you say you were connected to them?”
“Because I’m not. But I’m Home, that’s enough he will speak respectfully with me.”
Buscemi nodded, still uncertain of the full social dynamic. “Okay, you and I, we’re square, Okay? We’re quit of each other after today, capish?”
“Agreed. Move out guys,” he told his crew. The last through the door was Holt. He turned his back on them, but the black muzzles at his shoulders turned to the rear, and tracked on them until the last sliver of doorway was closed.