|Jack and his Zat|
While I'll concede the idea of a pistol that looks and/or works like a serpent (viper) is pretty terrifying, the way the zat gun works is actually the opposite of what you may think. Far from the deadly, lightning fast strike of a cobra, the zat gun is disappointingly clunky, and about as scary as a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end.
A pot of gold guarded by a comical leprechaun.
|The guys who brought you the Zat'nik'tel|
The weapon is carried about in its relaxed, dormant state. When activated, it makes a piercing electronic whine, utterly destroying the element of surprise. Following the beeping and whining, it jerks upright in an ungainly mockery of a snake preparing to strike.
So what happens next? The first shot from a zat gun usually stuns the target - but not always. Some people/creatures/godlike beings are able to resist the stunning effects of the first shot. But most fall down unconscious - similar to the effect of being stunned by a phaser.
The second shot from a zat usually kills - once again, not always. But let's take a break here for a moment while I propose a purely hypothetical scenario. Let's just say for a moment that I jumped out from behind a wobbly bulkhead and shot you (because you are my enemy) with a zat gun and you fell down stunned. Oscar winning performance BTW - well done. Now I'm presented with a bit of a dilemma. You might get up again after I run off, and try to hunt me down. No problem, I think. I can just shoot you a second time, while you're lying prone and defenceless as the day you were born, knowing the second shot will probably kill you.
|The zat at rest|
Then I remember that a third shot from a zat will completely disintegrate your body as if it never existed. Your mummy and daddy will never know what happened to you. I wrestle with this concept for a moment, because although I'm a hero of pretty average morals, I'm also a sci fi fan, and that means I'm interested in what it means to be human. I ask myself what effect utterly destroying another sentient being will have on upon my soul. It's actually a pretty gut-wrenching concept when I think about it.
Then I hear the stomp of more enemy troops echoing down the hall and I shoot your prone, defenceless, dead body a third time without hesitation. Time to rush off and do that truly heroic thing I was talking about.