Hard Sell

Summary: Secondhand arms dealer Uncle Tony describes his merchandise in a galaxy full of casual space travel.

Welcome to Uncle Tony's Honest Armaments! All our merchandise is completely functional, completely legal, and completely tax free.

Why am I operating out of the back of a used cargo shuttle? A businessman's gotta cut costs. Not because I'm hiding anything from customs or anything.

So, why would you purchase some of my hardware, you ask? I'm sure you heard of pirates or slavers popping out of shunt-space, throwing trash out the airlock as ad-hoc orbital bombardment, raiding the surface, and shunting out before the orbital defenders can get their heads out their asses.

As you know, only the most populated and important planets and habs have enough scanners and defenses to keep that from happening. The truth is, that shit's been going on long before the shunt drive. A cargo hauler crew could be mind-jacked by nanites or replaced by clones, then land, raid, and launder their loot to a third party that may or may not be aware of the hustle. Those raids took years to set up, but were highly lucrative.

Not that I know anything about those.

Even slower than light craft are mystery boxes, especially ones traveling for years between the stars. Each is effectively a time capsule, with their own isolated rules and customs. You might open one up, find a crazed cannibal crew, a mutant-infested hulk, pirate ambush, cult compound, an unintended ecology of repair bots, or worse. That's why most spaceports keep weapons trained on them and chat with them for months before docking, all it takes is them dumping trash out the airlock to ruin someone's day.

Ain't no such thing as an unarmed spaceship.

Anyway, most of the weapons used by spacers are just repurposed industrial tools. If a laser is strong enough to signal across interstellar distances or mill metal, it's strong enough to really ruin someone's day. They're easy to make, and as common as sand on a beach. A fine example of this is the Broomhandle 96. But I guess that looks too retro for you, eh?

There's also a host of utility firearms. There's the NP22 nailer, a flechette pistol used for riveting. There's a Mark 87 line launchers, used to launch tow cables between craft, not unlike maritime shotguns. There's the K3 survival pistol and K5 takedown rifle, used to hunt small game if you crash on a terraformed world or wilderness. There's the F2 flare gun, a plastic flare gun almost identical to the ancient ones. It can't take the pressure of modern caseless cartridges, and you'll lose a few fingers if you try.

You girlfriend would never forgive me if I sold that to you.

Now we move onto regular surplus. Here's an Archer A99 police pistol, a semi-auto ETC gun.

Et cetera? Nah, it's short for electrothermal chemical gun. That means it uses a plasma pulse, like a spark plug, to ignite the caseless propellant. Probably the most common type of firearm still in active duty for police and military, at least in communities that haven't gone full posthuman. This one looks like Tupperware, but it's built like a tank.

Then there's the big guy here. It looks like a bazooka, but it's actually a SANL-54 microsat launcher. It was designed to launch rockets into orbit above small moons and asteroids, deploying a small constellation of microsatellites. Of course, a creative person like you could come up with other uses.

You want something more precise? How's this?

You know why only an amateur attacks research vessels? Because science requires a lot more firepower than most mooks think.

Those research spacecraft? Full of particle accelerators that can fry you faster than a railgun, or give your starship cancer with strange matter. Then there's the smaller stuff: A lot of physics is launching shit at high speed, from potato guns and light gas cannons model impacts of micrometeors and spaceship alloys. Like this one here: The BFG9000. It's short for Big Fettling Gun, 9000 meters per second. What? You think it meant something else? Fettling just means metal scraps, which is appropriate since it can melt off parts of the slug or barrel if it overheats.

Then there's stuff the biologists and doctors carry in the field.

This is a Magnetar M6 dart revolver, a magnetic accelerator with an integrated laser rangefinder. If a tranquilizer dart arrives too fast, it can injure the target. Too slow, and it doesn't inject the drug or implant the tracker chip. So, the laser rangefinder determines the distance, and adjusts the launch velocity so the dart always arrives with the precise amount of kinetic energy. Convoluted, but nothing beats getting a palooka high enough to start talking to the carpet.

Even the re-enactors and experimental archeologists have an arsenal. This here is a reproduction lantaka, a cannon from ancient Southeast Asia. Instead of a flintlock or matchlock, it uses a fire piston to light the main charge. Reloading is old fashioned, since you need to ram powder and shot down the muzzle. Back in the Majapahit Empire, they used to use those for communication, signaling, and celebration more often than warfare.

That's mostly for museums and hobbyists, though. You want real old school, we got some nice melee weapons. Don't be too quick to dismiss getting up close, like those palookas who think a pistol will stop a powered armor trooper or armored killbot. You have a nice kukri here, made better than ancient standards. We got a cutlass, including some with a plasma edge, to bring to the boarding party. There's also some electric riot prods, fire axes, and underrated but useful polearms and bayonets. Hell, even a real pro with a knife and grenades can clear rooms faster than a merc team.

So old school isn't for you?

Can't say I blame you. If you were shot by an old fashion black powder firearm, up through the Franco-Prussian war, you'd be twice as likely to die from the infection. That was before smokeless powder made automatic weapons possible, like Maxim gun.

Eh, you want something more recent?

Well, we have the Skeinshot. It looks like an ancient semi-auto pistol, but the truth is in the bullets. It's not a firearm, nor magnetic accelerator, nor rocket launcher, nor air gun, nor direct energy weapon. Instead, it's a mechanical slingshot. Each cartridge has a skein of carbon nanotubes, each wound up before being loaded. When the hammer hits the release button on the back, it releases the tension and launches these razor-sharp flechettes.

You'll take it? Wonderful. Hopefully, it'll work better for you than the previous chum…er…owner.

Thanks for shopping at Uncle Tony's Honest Armaments!

If your weapon jams like a rock star, it's probably not ours. Honest!