"The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge is a novel by Harry Harrison, author of innumerable science fiction novels and stories. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied."
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July 03, 2012
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Excerpt from The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge by Harry Harrison
The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge
I stood in line, as patient as the other taxpayers, my filled out forms and my cash gripped hotly in my hand. Cash, money, the old-fashioned green folding stuff. A local custom that I intended to make expensive to the local customers. I was scratching under the artificial beard, which itched abominably, when the man before me stepped out of the way and I was at the window. My finger stuck in the glue and I had a job freeing it without pulling the beard off as well.
"Come, come, pass it over," the aging, hatchet-faced, bitter and shrewish female official said, hand extended impatiently.
"On the contrary," I said, letting the papers and banknotes fall away to disclose the immense .75 recoilless pistol that I held. "You pass it over. All of that tax money you have extracted from the sheeplike suckers who populate this backward planet."
I smiled to show that I meant it and she choked off a scream and began scrabbling in the cash drawer. It was a broad smile that showed all of my teeth, which I had stained bright red, which should have helped her decide on the proper course of action. As the money was pushed towards me I stuffed it into my long topcoat that was completely lined with deep pockets.
"What are you doing?" the man behind me gasped, eyes bulging like great white grapes.
"Taking money," I said and flipped a bundle at him. "Why don't you have some yourself." He caught it by reflex, goggled at it, and all the alarms went off at once and I heard the doors crashing shut. The cashier had managed to trigger an alarm.
"Good for you," I said, "but don't let a minor thing like that prevent you from keeping the cash coming."
She gasped and started to slip from sight, but a wave of the gun and another flash of my carmine dentures restored a semblance of life, and the flow of bills continued. People started to rush about and gun waving guards began to appear looking around enthusiastically for someone to shoot, so I triggered the radio relay in my pocket. There was a series of charming explosions all about the bank, from every wastebasket where I had planted a gas bomb, followed by the even more charming screams of the customers. I stopped stowing money long enough to slip on the gas-tight goggles and settle them into place. And to clamp my mouth shut so I was forced to breathe through the filter plugs in my nostrils.
It was fascinating to watch. Blackout gas is invisible and has no odor but it does contain a chemical that acts almost instantly, bringing about a temporary but complete paralysis of the optic nerve. Within fifteen seconds everyone in the bank was blind.
With the exception of James Bolivar diGriz, myself, man of many talents. Humming a happy tune through closed lips I stowed away the remaining money. My benefactress had finally slid from sight and was screaming incontinently somewhere behind the counter. So were a lot of other people. There was plenty of groping about and falling over things as I made my way through this little blacked out corner of bedlam. An eerie sensation indeed, the one-eyed man in the country of the blind and all that. A crowd had already gathered outside pressing in fascinated awe against the windows and glass doors, to watch the drama unfolding inside. I waved and smiled and a shudder passed through the nearest as they pushed back in panic from the door. Ishot the lock out, angling the gun so the bullets shrieked away, over their heads, and kicked the door open. Before exiting myself I threw a screamer out onto the sidewalk and quickly pushed the stopples into my ears.
The screamer sounded off and everyone began to leave quickly. You have to leave quickly when you hear one of these things. They send out a mixed brew of devilish sounds at the decibel level of a major earthquake. Some are audible, sounds like a magnified fingernail on a blackboard, while others are supersonic and produce sensations of panic and imminent death. Harmless and highly effective. The street was otherwise empty when I walked out to the car that was just pulling up to the curb. My head was throbbing with the supersonics that got past the plugs and I was more than happy to slip through the open door and relax while Angelina gunned the machine down the street.
"Everything go all right?" she asked, keeping her eyes on the road as she whipped around a corner on the outside wheels. Sirens began to sound in the distance.
"A piece of cake. Smooth as castor oil ..."
"Your similes leave a lot to be desired."
"Sorry. Touch of indigestion this morning. But my coat is lined with more money than we could possibly need."
"How nicel" she laughed, and she meant it. That irresistible grin, the crinkled nose. I longed to nibble it, or at least kiss her, but settled for a comradely pat on the shoulder since she needed all her concentration for driving. I popped a stick of gum in my mouth that would remove the red tooth dye and began to peel off my disguise.
As I changed so did the car. Angelina turned into a side street, slowed and then found an even quieter street to drive along. There was no one in sight. She pressed the button.
My, but technology can do some interesting things. The license plate flipped over to reveal a different number, but that was too simple a trick even to discuss. Angelina flicked on the windshield wipers as a fine spray of catalytic fluid sprang out of jets on the front of the car. Wherever it touched the blue paint turned a bright red. Except for thetop of the car which became transparent so that in a few moments we were sitting in a bubble-top surveying the world around. A good deal of what appeared to be chrome-plated metal dissolved and washed away altering the appearance and even the make of the car. As soon as this process was complete Angelina sedately turned a corner and started back in the direction from whence we had come. Her orange wig was locked away with my disguise and I held the wheel while she put on an immense pair of goggly sunglasses.