The rules of a duel between gentlemen are quite different from the rules of war between nations. Is it because gentlemen do not fight wars, or is it that men in war cease to be gentlemen?
snapped tight about Neilson's thrashing body! He heard the pop of parting strands as Neilson slashed with his knife. And then he swung the butt of his carbine, twice, against the trapped man's skull.
Neilson went limp. It was finished. He could take his prisoner to the lock, summon the UN guards, and go home to the Krekar Hills. And an end to all blood-letting for him.
He set about binding tight the arms and legs of Neilson, and had barely completed his task when the prisoner groaned and struggled.
"So this is it, Treb?"
"You win again. And I--I lose everything."
"So?" Treb touched his pocket torch to a heap of shredded dry twigs. "What have you lost? Your health, your life? And will not the woman forget all else and love you?"
"Hah! She will laugh at me if I come near her. Defeated, and with a paltry ten thousand to offer. Better that I died than this."
"Perhaps you do not--know this woman, Harl. If she is good, she will come to you."
Conflicts between countries are now resolved by sending equal numbers of trained soldiers to an Earth satellite to fight it out. The winners win the conflict.
Why a satellite instead of an island? Who knows. If the U.N. can enforce the terms of the battle's result, why not just force an agreement without a battle and enforce that?
The characters are good, and the plotting works, it's only the premise that is silly.
Dueling to the death on a manmade battlefield hovering above Earth is the central idea behind this short story, which puts the United Nations in a not-so-favorable (some would say accurate) light.
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