The Dueling Machine
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Imagine a mechanism that would end all wars and bloodshed. A machine that can create a virtual world where conflicts seem to be fought, but no one dies. Dr. Leo's Dueling Machine is just that. But when a warrior from the Kerak Empire finds a way to circumvent the machine, actually killing his opponents, the results are devastating. His secret knowledge of the machine could lead to actual, not virtual, war. Dr. Leo and his assistant must work quickly to discover what Kerak knows. Their lives, their planet, and the preservation of peace depend on it.
and stared off into infinity. Hector shuffled his feet, rubbed his nose, whistled a few bars of off-key tunes, and finally blurted, "How can you take apart the dueling machine?" "Hm-m-m?" Leoh snapped out of his reverie. "How can you take apart the dueling machine?" Hector repeated. "Looks like a big job to do in a week." "Yes, it is. But, my boy, perhaps we ... the two of us ... can do it." Hector scratched his head. "Well, uh, sir ... I'm not very ... that is, my mechanical aptitude scores
need is to make the machinery perform properly. But this ... I'm afraid I'm too old to handle a real problem like this." Hector scratched his nose thoughtfully, then answered, "If you can't handle the problem, sir, then we're going to have a war on our hands in a matter of weeks. I mean, Kanus won't be satisfied with swallowing the Szarno group ... the Acquataine Cluster is next ... and he'll have to fight to get it." "Then the Star Watch can step in," Leoh said, resignedly. "Maybe ... but
Kanus—killed the other. * The rest of Kanus' audience consisted of political hacks, roughnecks-turned-bodyguards, and a few other hangers-on who had been with Kanus since the days when he held his political monologues in cellars, and haunted the alleys to avoid the police. Kanus had come a long way: from the blackness of oblivion to the dazzling heights of the chancellor's rural estate. Money, power, glory, revenge, patriotism: each man in the room, listening to Kanus, had his reasons for
Leoh said. "Then you must be older than I," Spencer replied, allowing only the faintest hint of a smile to appear. "I suppose it's possible." "But not very likely, eh?" They laughed together and said good-by. The Star Watch commander tramped through the hills until sunset, enjoying the sight of the grasslands and distant purple mountains he had known in his childhood. As dusk closed in, he told his aide he was ready to leave. The aide pressed a stud on his belt and a two-place aircar skimmed
am at an age where I can be strictly platonic. She was on guard against you, but she knows she has very little to fear from me." "I see ... I think." "Well," Leoh said, gesturing toward the slideway, "I suppose this is where we go our separate ways." "Oh, no, sir. I'm going with you. That is, I mean, you are Dr. Leoh, aren't you?" "Yes, I am. And you must be—" Leoh hesitated. Can this be a Star Watch officer? he wondered. The youth stiffened to attention and for an absurd flash of a second,