“The thing is, we get a lot of wannabes in this business,” said Mr. Klint

“Posers,” added Mr. Wyd.

“Impostors.”

“Frauds.”

“Charlatans. So we have a little test we like to run applicant through.” Mr. Klint gestured toward the range. “A quick shooting demonstration.”

Curry felt hot panic sweat begin to prickle along her neck. “I beg your pardon?”

“A true mercenary knows how to handle a weapon properly, able to hit a target and reload without incident,” said Mr. Wyd. “So we have a selection of weapons for you to shoot while we look on.”

“Nothing to it,” added Mr. Klint. “Except when something goes wrong, of course. Remember when that poor fool picked up the left-handed Steyr AUG and was burned by hot ejecting brass across his face?”

“Or the Dirty Harry who tried firing a .44 Dan Wesson with one hand and wound up with the hammer spur buried in the web of his hand?” said Mr. Wyd.

“Or the so-called ‘sniper’ who got a half-moon cut from the scope of his own rifle being driven into his face?”

“Or the fool who hit the slide release when he meant for the mag release?”

“What happens when there’s an…error…like that?” Curry asked, trying her best to keep up her facade and not show an ounce of panic.

“Well, most of the time we’ll simply have to kill them on the spot,” said Mr. Wyd. “Knowing what they do about our operation…it wouldn’t be prudent to do otherwise. Not always, though.”

Mr. Klint hit a switch on the range, raising the bulletproof shutters to reveal a man in fatigues handing by meathooks and groaning softly. “Sometimes we can still find a good use for them. Don’t worry; we’re not heartless. His next of kin will get his full fee.”