Chapter 9. What Price Justice?
Stephen Pelon’s only comment to Rachel Mendez, the senior lab tech that had been there longer than the rest of the crew. Any of them.
“This damned thing is a personal killing device. You dial the number, whoever is holding it, has a very bad day, becoming an obliterated red-stain instead of a human.”
“What makes it so dangerous?”
“If this thing had not been damaged from being dropped and then immersed in oil contaminated with metallic shavings and who knows what all, it is a broken bit of electronic artwork.”
“Oh yeah. Even the battery is unique, I have not got it figured out just yet, but it is heavy. Like a chunk of steel.” He nodded. “But I got the wiring in a mass spec and I got copper-two. Copper acetylide, conducts electricity like a champ, but once detonated, all this becomes a bomb.”
“Can you disassemble it?” Rachel asked.
“Without blowing it up? Maybe. But we better not take it out of the containment box. If that goes off, anyone in a meter circle is in danger of being shredded.” Stephen said. “I want to cut off a small bit of the case and put it in the spec-analyzer, but we need to cut it carefully, if any part of this phone-looking thing goes off, it all will poof.”
“Or bang?” Rachel laughed.
“Don’t laugh, but yes.” Stephen sipped coffee out of a steel-and-glass cup designed to look like a test tube.
“Stephen, who would build something like this?”
“Not my concern, I can tell you, this is a fricken work of destructive art?” The scientist said as he looked at the mounted phone under the thick ALON blast shield. “I am afraid to even clean it off. Without the battery, I still worry about a backup detonator. This design means to hurt, a lot. But why only one person? The person that would be holding it would be the sole victim, is someone out for revenge?”
Rachel looked at a screen on her handheld gauss meter.
“It doesn’t have any measurable current that I can pick up, there is no field.” She observed. “It looks inert.”
“Everything is inert until it kills you.” He said.
“You’re a cynic for a surfer.”
“I’m not the surfer, that is another novel by the writing god of this world.”
“What?” Rachel looked confused.
“Never mind, just talking while I’m thinking.” He pulled at his left ear. “The destruction of the flesh and bone in the reports shows that the range seems to be about the length of an arm in the air, much shorter if it hits any solid object, up to and including drapes, leaves of plants and heavy cloth, it is an expensive way to kill someone.”
“Could it go through the transparent aluminum?” Rachel said. “if it’s designed to kill, maybe it could blow a hole through the glass.”
“This stuff? Nah. We’ve tested this to the best of our ability. As this as this is, it would stop five pounds of C4. The floor, not so much, it would blow a big ol’ hole there.”
“What about it flying across the room?”
“Well, yeah, that would go into the bad-column.” Stephen chuckled. “Well, let’s shave a bit of the case off and do a scan in the mass spec.”
“Okay.” Rachel nodded.
“We can use the cheese knife and scrape it a bit.” Rachel smiled, referring to a flat, diamond bladed tool for scraping surface samples. She was enjoying this little puzzle.
“Good, make it so and let’s get the test done.”