The Old Empire had still been in the midst of experimentation with directed-energy weaponry when the last president was overthrown and the Anarchy began. His successors–presidents, president-emperors, and emperors alike–did not have the funds or the technology base to pursue the research and development involved, especially given how badly the polity had splintered. A number of weapons were fielded, but the incredibly complex nature of their ammunition–portable power cells, mostly–limited their use, as emperors and tinhorn despots held their meager stockpiles back.

As such, the only directed-energy weapon to see major use during the Anarchy and the post-Anarchy was the Palomino Model 70, commonly known as the Sunmaker. Produced by Palomino Arms for the civilian marketplace, the Sunmaker was unique in that it could accept power from an outstanding variety of sources. A wall adaptor plug-in allowed places with a functioning electrical grid to simply connect their Sunmakers to the mains to defend strong points. It would accept almost any portable battery on the market with the proper and easily-swappable adaptor; one popular adaptor allowed it to use commercial alkaline batteries, though six such batteries were only good for one or two low-power shots at best.

The form factor of the Palomino Sunmaker was also important. Oh, there was a lot to like about the integrated optic sight which doubled as an accessory rail, or the big triggerguard/handguard that could accomodate users wearing heavy gloves. But the sleekness of the design, its sharklike profile in black plastic and ceramic composites…unnecessary from a design standpoint, but brilliant from a marketing one. Hefting the weapon made someone used to guns that shot bullets feel like they were on the cutting edge…and starting down the lens of one was intimidating.

Sheriff Stevens had agreed to bend the law of his ditchwater burg in exchange for a Palomino Sunmaker still in its box. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

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