While there is nothing involving Sci-Fi or Fantasy in this scene, I am sure I read it in a sci-fi/fantasy book. It was probably written after 2000.

The Good Guys (very militarized bunch) set up in a cover business in a city. I don't remember what, but maybe like a dry cleaner, or restaurant, or warehouse. I don't remember why they needed the cover.

After a few weeks they get approached by Mr. Bad Guy and a couple henchmen who want them to pay for "protection" or "fire insurance". The leader of the Good Guys group tells them we are not paying, and for his men to rough them up real good and toss them out the back.

Mr. Bad Guy says something like: Don't you know who I am? You can't touch me! One of the henchmen confirms yeah, he is our leader.

The leader of the Good Guys group says okay, we won't touch you. Bust up the henchmen, and his guys start breaking their bones (hands, arms, knees, legs, that kind of thing if I recall right) and tossing them all out the back door. I am pretty sure they were only hospitalized as opposed to killing them.

Mr. Bad Guy is pissed. He gets more members of his gang (6? or 7?), and they crash in trying to get payback, but the Good Guys group are not surprised, and ready for them. They grab them all and tell them: we can't touch Mr. Bad Guy, but we can touch you, and proceed to bust them all up except for Mr. Bad Guy and toss them all out the back door again.

Now Mr. Bad Guy is really pissed. He gets even more guys (a dozen?) with guns and they try again. Again, the Good Guys group (militarized, remember?) easily get the drop on them and capture them again. Once again they tell them: Mr. Bad Guy says we can't touch him, but we can touch you, and once again start breaking bones and heads of the crew in the attack.

Mr. Bad Guy gets really mad and starts getting more of his gang together to attack again, and the gang decides they have had enough and kill Mr. Bad Guy and elect a new leader who decides they don't want any part of the Good Guys group.

At first I thought this was the scene from David Weber's We Few but upon reading it, see they just paid off/hired the gang. Then I though it was James P. Hogan's Proteus Operation but I see there the good guys went to the bad guy and killed him.

  • 1
    I'm not seeing anything sci-fi / fantasy about this story (I know you mentioned that up front, but....) - are there any details that would make it on topic for this site other than your memory of where you read it?
    – NKCampbell
    May 25, 2019 at 2:07
  • 3
    I can't post an answer since this is "On Hold," but that sequence of events happens in Michael Z. Williamson's novel The Weapon. It's part of his science fiction series of stories set in "the Freehold Universe." The narrator of the book was Kenneth Chinran, leader of a team of elite commandos who were placed on Earth to establish cover stories while plotting how to devastate the largest metropolitan areas in the event of war between the United Nations and Grainne (their homeworld). The street gang had no clue what they were getting into when they tried to intimidate those commando types.
    – Lorendiac
    May 25, 2019 at 10:40
  • @Lorendiac reopened, you can post it as an answer now :)
    – Jenayah
    May 25, 2019 at 15:52
  • @NKCampbell No details I can add, But I have been on a SF/F streak for many years now, reading very little regular Military/Adventure/Spy stories.
    – NJohnny
    May 25, 2019 at 17:22
  • 2
    There must be some vague detail that is making you think it is sci-fi or fantasy - but if you are resorting to "most of my books were SF&F so this must be", I don't see how we can help.
    – HorusKol
    Jul 13, 2022 at 0:50

2 Answers 2


As per the comments above, it looks like this may be Michael Z. Williamson's The Weapon, in the Freehold series.

Kenneth Chinran was a disaffected youth who joined the military and was recruited for an elite deep cover unit, shrugging off training and exercises so tough that several of the recruits did not survive. Then he was sent by his star nation to infiltrate a fascistic, militaristic planet — Earth. He lived in deep cover for years, marrying and having a daughter. Then the Earth forces attacked his home system, and he and his team came out of hiding, attacking and destroying the infrastructure of the crowded planet, disabling transportation and communications in city after city. As a result of his attacks, billions died for lack of the food, water and power which the ravaged system could no longer supply. His sabotage was successful, but the deaths of so many weighs heavily on his mind, making him wonder if he can stay sane. Then the secret police discovered his identity. With his daughter, the only thing in his life that had so far kept him human, he was on the run, while the resources of a planetwide police state were tracking him down. He could see no way to escape from the planet, no way to keep hiding, and if he and his daughter were caught, death was the very least that they could expect. But Chinran is a warrior to the core, and even if he loses this last battle, he won¿t go down without a fight that his pursuers¿the ones who survive¿will never forget


Now, Mister Cutter had barely a scratch on him, even though he was still gaping for air. He'd pass out soon, and would wake up sore but unmarked. The others were hamburger. This lesson would be repeated as necessary, until they figured out that hanging with Fart Cutter was painful on the joints.

It's not long after this that they arrange for the death of a subordinate with the message that they didn't kill him, but Fart Cutter did for not bringing by his own protection money. Cutter dies shortly thereafter at the hands of his own men. I haven't the time to dive too deeply into the book, but it sounds like Fart Cutter has a chip in his head that would make them killing him problematic, since it would leave a trace.

  • 1
    Yes, It is "The Weapon" I have not had access to a copy for many years, so could not check it. Your clips reminded me of the scene. Thanks.
    – NJohnny
    Dec 20, 2023 at 13:13
  • @NJohnny: I got the excerpt from archive.org/details/isbn_9781416521181
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 20, 2023 at 13:21
  • "planet¿Earth" What the heck is that "¿" supposed to be? (I understand it's probably a copy/paste code-page issue...) Other places it seems that maybe it's a ' or ".
    – FreeMan
    Dec 20, 2023 at 14:32
  • @FreeMan: Most people have kept the symbol intact. Audible turned it into a colon. Barnes and Noble turned it into an em dash. 🙄
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 20, 2023 at 14:43
  • 1
    @FreeMan: According to the blurb on the back, an em dash. I'll fix it.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 20, 2023 at 14:53

This sounds a bit like "I Dare" (2002) by Miller and Lee. The protagonists (Pat Rin, Cheever MacFarland, and Natessa the Assassin) go to the planet Surebleak and set up a rug shop. There's a whole section about them refusing protection from the local boss, killing him, and taking over as boss. He then works his way up to "Boss Boss" of the planet.

  • Not this one, I checked, As far as I remember, I have never read any of the "Liaden Universe" books. (It's possible I read the first one Agents of Change when it came out (1998) but I never read any of the others.)
    – NJohnny
    Jul 13, 2022 at 20:05

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