Sunday May 1, 2005
Book 6: Resident Mad Scientist — Part V: Instant Replay
Note: Colonel Pranger's flagship is the Integrity, but readers may recognize it as the ship that once-upon-a-future will be rechristened as the Colonel Pranger. Whether or not that happens again will depend in large measure on whether or not Colonel Pranger survives the coming engagement.

Considering Pranger's already impressive longevity, the fact that the only "assassin" ever to get close to him did so entirely accidentally, and the matter of Pranger's improved operational intelligence regarding the upcoming incident, the safe money says that the Integrity will not need a new call-sign anytime soon.

Schlock Mercenary readers will no doubt sleep easier knowing that the safety of Colonel Pranger is now all but guaranteed.

Addendum to Note: An actual, definitive guarantee would require the promise of some sort of refund, and that won't be happening regardless of how things turn out. If the word "schlock" or the word "mercenary" led you to believe otherwise, you are invited to take a quick tour of your local dictionary.


NARRATOR: Mercenary Commander Kevyn Andreyasn of "Tagon's Toughs" negotiates with mercenary Colonel Drake Pranger of "Pranger's Bangers."

KEVYN: The mission objective is very straightforward.  I want Tem Phica captured, and Captain Tagon, Lieutenant Foxworthy, and Sergeant Schlock extracted safely.

PRANGER: Straightforward, yes.  Except that all four of them are currently inside a massive underground fortress.

KEVYN: A fortress into which you have been invited.

PRANGER: You're also asking me to betray a client.

KEVYN: A client for whom you've as yet done no work, and who has yet to pay you a retainer.

PRANGER: Speaking of retainers...

KEVYN: I'll give you the names of all those individuals who have put contracts on your head, and the names of the parties bidding for those contracts.

KEVYN: In addition, I'll pay you fifty million kilocreds.

PRANGER: Half down, half on delivery?

KEVYN: Colonel Pranger... we're talking about the retainer.  Fifty million is "half down."



PRANGER: Excuse me a moment.  My quartermaster overheard us, and seems to have wet himself.

BUNNIGUS: You're doing fine, Kevyn.  I think you've really got him over a barrel here.

KEVYN: Thanks.

PRANGER: Commander Andreyasn, I have just two additional terms, and then we have ourselves a deal.

First, I am planning this.  Not you.  It's a risky operation, and I will not put myself or my troops in danger on mission plans made by unknown parties.

PRANGER: Second, we will only enter the House Phica fortress with some assurance that we are not walking into a trap of your devising.

KEVYN: You may plan the mission yourself, and I will provide whatever assurances you require.

PRANGER: Excellent.  All I require is that you accompany us into the House Phica fortress personally.

BUNNIGUS: Oooh, wrong side of the barrel.