It started long before I was born or even my father. My grandfather had been a commander in the fleet when several nobles and a dozen high ranking fleet officers tried to rebel. He had led the fleet enlisted and recaptured three battleships that had turned the tide. He had also sent marines down onto the planets in four systems to capture the nobles.
For his actions he was given awards and promotions and land on Cottonwood. Of course it was years before he retired to raise a family. Of the three children two went into the fleet and the third into business on what they called the Carnival Walk. She started what we call the Shooting House now.
She died childless in a flyer accident when I was eight. My grandfather died in hunting accident and my uncle James in a shuttle crash. My father was last and died in a fleet training accident a month after my mother left. All the family property was left to me and I was only eighteen.
I walked into the Shooting House and smiled as I took off my long coat, "how is it going sergeant major?"
He was retired but still liked it when I called him that. He turned from the city response team doing a after action review, "great. I checked the level response time and like you thought it was slow."
I nodded as I went around the counter to hang up the coat and put on my weapon harness, "how did the response team do?"
Their team leader grinned as the team reddened, "they made it to the second floor."
I checked the twin twelve millimeter Lyons and slipped them into thigh holsters, "what difficulty?"
He snorted, "seven."
I grinned, "set it at ten sergeant major and record the response time for me."
I had five spare magazines under each arm as I walked towards the red door, "want to wager sergeant major?"
He laughed as I shoved the door open and pulled one of the pistols. I slipped a pair of slim IR and thermal glasses on before I pulled the other pistol. I moved down to the ready door and kicked it open and went through as I fired and shot a man holding a rifle pointed at me. I continued to move and shot another man coming out of a room with a pistol.
I cleared each room, sometimes only using one weapon and pointing the other at the door. The stairs were the hardest and had attackers coming at me constantly from both directions. I flowed into the last room firing both pistols rapidly in different directions. I turned after the last holo image fell, "that was not right sergeant major. There were only supposed to be three in here not six."
He chuckled through the house comm net, "suck it up."
I changed magazines before I walked out and headed down to the lobby, "I think the response time was a lot better this time too."
When I stepped out the red door the response team was paying the sergeant major. Well, the men were but the lieutenant was shaking his head, "I do not know how you do it kid. That is the tenth time I have watched you and it is like you know where they are before you enter."
I smiled as I started for the counter, "the key is perirhinal vision and hand eye coordination with fast reflexes."
He chuckled, "so you do not know where the targets are going to be?"
I snorted as I pulled the weapons and cleared them, "the AI generates them at and in random positions on ten which is why I always test it."
I glanced at the others, "just remember to keep your weapon pointed in your coverage area and do not worry about who will shoot the bastard somewhere else. You need to trust others in your team and if you can not you will not work as a team."
I stripped one of the pistols, "is Jennings working the beginners range sergeant major?"
He grinned, "him and first sergeant Dickens."
I nodded as I turned on the counter comp screen and started the last shooting house sim code lines. I began cleaning as the response team huddled and then moved towards the door. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a red highlighted code line. I slapped the shooting house safe lockout and shifted to look at the screen as I froze it, "sergeant major?"
Red flashing lights were going off as he spun to look at me, "what is it?"
I looked up, "did you run a diagnostic when you opened?"
He shook his head, "master sergeant Jennings opened and..."
I shook my head, "and someone manage to slip a lethal bug into the house grav pulse. It was triggered when the house level went to ten."
The grav pulse was the shooting house's way to punch the shooter if he was to slow or missed. It was like being hit with an under powered round and hurt like hell. Only now the pulse would be lethal and kill. I quickly copied everything before I went through every line uploaded in the last twenty four hours.
I found the time the spike was planted and removed the lines of code. I ran another diagnostic before I looked at the response team and gestured. I reset the sim run they had been ready to run and waited until they were in the house. I looked at the sergeant major, "find out if master sergeant Jennings had any strangers this morning."
He nodded and headed towards the other side of the house and the beginners range. I looked at the data I had copied before I went back to cleaning the weapons. When I was done I turned to put the magazines loaded with practice rounds away. I opened another drawer and took out solid core rounds and loaded all the magazines.
I loaded both pistols and slipped them into the holsters before turning to check the house sim. I smiled as the response team finished the last room successfully. The sergeant major was coming through the range door at the same time the response team opened the house door. The two masked men stepped into the shop doorway with weapons already in their hands.
They hesitated between looking at the sergeant major and the response team. That was their fatal mistake and the last they ever made. I pulled one pistol and brought it up as their eyes came back to me. The first round exploded through the left eye of the first man and the second took the next between the eyes.
The world sped up again as they stiffened and fell straight back and began to thrash and spasm. The response team reacted after the sergeant major had already pulled a pistol and moved towards the two dead men. I searched outside the shop and looked at the outer security vids. I set my pistol on the counter and opened the shop comm to the constables.
Two minutes and I had six constables in the shop with the response team who had already marked off an area as the crime scene. By the time the inspectors arrived I had already given my statement and so had the sergeant major and the response team. They were shaking their heads the whole time, who would be dumb enough the rob someplace where everyone was armed?
I was thinking of the lethal bug that had been inserted into the house sim comp. It turned out one of the men I had killed had been in when the shop opened. The internal security vid captured him slipping a data stick into the sim comp. Of course when the constables tried to get an identification the two men were listed as contract killers.
I glanced at the stunning young woman that arrived an hour later. The constable commissioner herself had called and when she heard about the killers she sent Ashley. Ashley was junior inspector Ashley Henry and had been here many times to use the range or house. She was one of the few non fleet personal that could go through the house alone on the highest level.
She glanced around as I finished cleaning up, "so who did you piss off kid?"
I smiled as I carried the cleaning bot to the closet, "that is the question everyone is asking. You are late if you came to help investigate."
She smiled, "the commissioner sent me to baby sit."
The sergeant major snorted and then laughed as first sergeant Dickens grinned. I gestured to the counter, "find a stool, it will be a long day."
I was doing inventory on the ammo while the sergeant major handled the appointments. I turned to check the house cleaning bot dumps and saw the team. They were trying to slip up on the shop front from both sides but I had the exterior vids enlarged. I spun as I pulled a pistol and slapped the door force screen.
The sergeant major spun as he pulled his pistol and I moved to the end of the counter and knelt. Ashley was very quick and had her pistol in her hand before I started to move. She followed and crossed to kneel behind the weapon clearing barrel. The force screen screamed and screeched as the two assault teams used a screen breacher.
They flowed in and started to spread and that was as far as they got. The sergeant major, myself and Ashley began to fire and I was not aiming for the body. The men fell and died before they could fire and I paused and shot one in the hand and then both feet. He dropped his weapon and fell while screaming.
When we stopped firing seven men were dead and one was still screaming. I moved forward and grabbed him by the leg before I quickly yanked and pulled him into the shop. I stripped him of weapons and secured his arms and slapped his face, "who sent you!"
He glared, "this is not over. Your family is dead."
I put the barrel of my pistol against his groin, "I will ask again. Who sent you?"
He licked his lips and looked at the sergeant major who was expressionless. He looked at me, "Prince Dunston."
I stood and looked at Ashley, "why would the prince want me dead?"
She shrugged as the man shifted, "your grandfather was responsible for the rebellion failing and his exile."
I shook my head and the sergeant major snorted, "a vendetta."
I stood and moved towards the counter, "time to close the shop and make a few calls."
The calls were to a few of my father's old friends and then I checked and found out Prince Dunston was here on the planet. I let the sergeant major and Ashley handle the constables. When they left I nodded to the sergeant major, "you three run the house until I get back."
He cleared his throat, "we can..."
I shook my head, "you stay here and watch each others back. I am going home to grandfather's house."
Ashley did not say anything when I took the bag of ammo and my weapons. She stayed beside me as we walked through the Carnival Walk. I rented a flyer and made sure the tanks were full before I lifted and flew away. Grandfather's house was way out in the wild and the nearest neighbor was a hundred kilometers away.
I glanced at her as I flew, "how are you in the woods?"
She grinned, "like a wolf with cubs."
I grinned back and turned to watch where I was going. The house was more like a huge lodge but I was not going to stay in the house. Grandfather had build a camouflaged and hidden treehouse for his children and it was still in good shape. I landed in front of the house and grabbed the bag.
I stepped out and stretched and looked at Ashley as she took deep breaths. I turned away from the house and she frowned and hurried to follow, "where are you going?"
A few minutes later I stopped and looked around before looking up, "my treehouse."
She looked up and then looked at me, "how are we getting up there?"
I moved to the tree and bent to brush the bark until I felt the first stealthed spike, "you need to go slow and search for each spike as you climb."
Five minutes and I helped her step onto a small platform covered in fern like leaves. I turned and led the way around and up hidden steps and opened a door. When she stepped into the treehouse I was setting the bag on a small table. I pointed up and around, "the fresher is up there. We have water and the last time I was here I put a few weeks worth of rations in a stasis unit."