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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesUnwise Child - Chapter 2
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Unwise Child - Chapter 2 Post by :traffic-tart Category :Long Stories Author :Randall Garrett Date :May 2012 Read :2841

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Unwise Child - Chapter 2

Mike the Angel kept his hand in his pocket, his thumb on a little plate that was set in the side of the small mechanism that was concealed therein. As he neared the door, the little plate began to vibrate, making a buzz which could only be felt, not heard. Mike sighed to himself. Vibroblades were all the rage this season.

He pushed open the rear door rapidly and stepped inside. It was just what he'd expected. His eyes saw and his brain recorded the whole scene in the fraction of a second before he moved. In that fraction of a second, he took in the situation, appraised it, planned his strategy, and launched into his plan of action.

Harry MacDougal was sitting at his workbench, near the controls of the eye that watched the shop when he was in the lab. He was hunched over a little, his small, bright eyes peering steadily at Mike the Angel from beneath shaggy, silvered brows. There was no pleading in those eyes--only confidence.

Next to Old Harry was a kid--sixteen, maybe seventeen. He had the JD stamp on his face: a look of cold, hard arrogance that barely concealed the uncertainty and fear beneath. One hand was at Harry's back, and Mike knew that the kid was holding a vibroblade at the old man's spine.

At the same time, the buzzing against his thumb told Mike the Angel something else. There was a vibroblade much nearer his body than the one in the kid's hand.

That meant that there was another young punk behind him.

All this took Mike the Angel about one quarter of a second to assimilate. Then he jumped.

Had the intruders been adults, Mike would have handled the entire situation in a completely different way. Adults, unless they are mentally or emotionally retarded, do not usually react or behave like children. Adolescents can, do, and _must_--for the very simple reason that they have not yet had time to learn to react as adults.

Had the intruders been adults, and had Mike the Angel behaved the way he did, he might conceivably have died that night. As it was, the kids never had a chance.

Mike didn't even bother to acknowledge the existence of the punk behind him. He leaped, instead, straight for the kid in the dead-black suede zipsuit who was holding the vibroblade against Harry MacDougal's spine. And the kid reacted exactly as Mike the Angel had hoped, prayed, and predicted he would.

The kid defended himself.

An adult, in a situation where he has one known enemy at his mercy and is being attacked by a second, will quickly put the first out of the way in order to leave himself free to deal with the second. There is no sense in leaving your flank wide open just to oppose a frontal attack.

If the kid had been an adult, Harry MacDougal would have died there and then. An adult would simply have slashed his vibroblade through the old man's spine and brought it to bear on Mike the Angel.

But not the kid. He jumped back, eyes widening, to face his oncoming opponent in an open space. He was no coward, that kid, and he knew how to handle a vibroblade. In his own unwise, suicidal way, he was perfectly capable of proving himself. He held out the point of that shimmering metal shaft, ready to parry any offensive thrust that Mike the Angel might make.

If Mike had had a vibroblade himself, and if there hadn't been another punk at his back, Mike might have taken care of the kid that way. As it was, he had no choice but to use another way.

He threw himself full on the point of the scintillating vibroblade.

A vibroblade is a nasty weapon. Originally designed as a surgeon's tool, its special steel blade moves in and out of the heavy hilt at speeds from two hundred to two thousand vibrations per second, depending on the size and the use to which it is to be put. Make it eight inches long, add serrated, diamond-pointed teeth, and you have the man-killing vibroblade. Its danger is in its power; that shivering blade can cut through flesh, cartilage, and bone with almost no effort. It's a knife with power steering.

But that kind of power can be a weakness as well as a strength.

The little gadget that Mike the Angel carried did more than just detect the nearby operation of a vibroblade. It was also a defense. The gadget focused a high-density magnetic field on any vibroblade that came anywhere within six inches of Mike's body.

In that field, the steel blade simply couldn't move. It was as though it had been caught in a vise. The blade no longer vibrated; it had become nothing more than an overly fancy bread knife.

The trouble was that the power unit in the heavy hilt simply wouldn't accept the fact that the blade was immovable. That power unit was in there to move something, and by heaven, _something had to move.

The hilt jerked and bucked in the kid's hand, taking skin with it. Then it began to smoke and burn under the overload. The plastic shell cracked and hot copper and silver splattered out of it. The kid screamed as the molten metal burned his hand.

Mike the Angel put a hand against the kid's chest and shoved. As the boy toppled backward, Mike turned to face the other boy.

Only it wasn't a boy.

She was wearing gold lip paint and had sprayed her hair blue, but she knew how to handle a vibroblade at least as well as her boy friend had. Just as Mike the Angel turned, she lunged forward, aiming for the small of his back.

And she, too, screamed as she lost her blade in a flash of heat.

Then she grabbed for something in her pocket. Regretfully, Mike the Angel brought the edge of his hand down against the side of her neck in a paralyzing, but not deadly, rabbit punch. She dropped, senseless, and a small gun spilled out of the waist pocket of her zipsuit and skittered across the floor. Mike paused only long enough to make sure she was out, then he turned back to his first opponent.

As he had anticipated, Harry MacDougal had taken charge. The kid was sprawled flat on the floor, and Old Harry was holding a shock gun in his hand.

Mike the Angel took a deep breath.

"Yer trousers are on fire," said Harry.

Mike yelped as he felt the heat, and he began slapping at the smoldering spots where the molten metal from the vibroblades had hit his clothing. He wasn't afire; modern clothing doesn't flame up--but it can get pretty hot when you splash liquid copper on it.

"Damn!" said Mike the Angel. "New suit, too."

"You're a fast thinker, laddie," said Old Harry.

"You don't need to flatter me, Harry," said Mike the Angel. "When an old teetotaler like you asks a man if he's brought some scotch, the man's a fool if he doesn't know there's trouble afoot." He gave his leg a final slap and said: "What happened? Are there any more of them?"

"Don't know. Might be." The old man waved at his control panel. "My instruments are workin' again!" He gestured at the floor. "I'm nae sure how they did it, but somehow they managed to blank out ma instruments just long enough to get inside. Their mistake was in not lockin' the front door."

Mike the Angel was busy searching the two unconscious kids. He looked up. "Neither of them is carrying any equipment in their clothing--at least, not anything that's self-powered. If they've got pickup circuits built into the cloth, there must be more of them outside."

"Aye. Likely. We'll see."

Suddenly, there was a soft _ping! ping! ping! from an instrument on the bench.

Harry glanced quickly at the receiving screen that was connected with the multitude of eyes that were hidden around the area of his shop. Then a smile came over his small brown face.

"Cops," he said. "Time they got here."

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Sergeant Cowder looked the room over and took a drag from his cigarette. "Well, that's that. Now--what happened?" He looked from Mike the Angel to Harry MacDougal and back again. Both of them appeared to be thinking. "All right," he said quietly, "let me guess, then." Old Harry waved a hand. "Oh no, Sergeant; 'twon't be necessary. I think Mr. Gabriel was just waiting for me to start, because he wasn't here when the two rapscallions came in, and I was just tryin' to figure out where to begin. We're not bein' unco-operative. Let's see now--" He gazed at the ceiling
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The kids who tried to jump Mike the Angel were bright enough in a lot of ways, but they made a bad mistake when they tangled with Mike the Angel. They'd done their preliminary work well enough. They had cased the job thoroughly, and they had built the equipment to take care of it. Their mistake was not in their planning; it was in not taking Mike the Angel into account. There is a section of New York's Manhattan Island, down on the lower West Side, that has been known, for over a century, as "Radio Row." All through this section
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