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 The Bounty Hunter

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Razgriz
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PostSubject: The Bounty Hunter   17/08/15, 08:46 am

--Human Year 3025; Galactic Standard Year 45,215--

"Wake up," Blink said, hovering over her partner. Martin was curled up on his cot, the blanket wrapped tightly around him to stave off the cold. The life support system for his ship was working.......in the technical sense, so it only just managed to keep the inside of the vessel warm enough he wouldn't freeze in his sleep. Groaning, he mumbled "Just five more minutes Blink." Blink let out a sighing sound, and then moved herself to hover by his face. Without warning, she turned her speakers up and blasted an audio sample of an air horn.

"FUCK!" Martin yelled, eyes shooting open as he rolled over and off the cot, landing on the cold metal floor. His hands went right for his ears and clamped down on them. While they still rang from the noise, he glared up at his AI companion. "Dammit Blink, you know I turn my mods off when I sleep," he growled. Blink floated off the edge of the cot and rotated to look down on Martin, sighing again, the sound odd through her speakers. "I did tell you to wake up," she said. Her spherical body righted itself before floating off to the center of the small cabin, waiting for Martin to stand. After a few seconds, he did just that. "Okay so.....why the wake up call?" he asked her.

Blink, Martin's AI encapsulated within a volleyball sized sphere, let the lights of her shell flash once--her namesake 'blink'--in a yellow color, showing she was irritated. "You told me to wake you up six hours ago, when we entered the Denali system. Well, guess where we are." It was Martin's turn to blink in surprise, saying "It's already been six hours?" Blink didn't stick around, already floating out the open cabin door as she said "You were the one that said 'Time flies when you sleep.' So don't act so surprised. Now please get ready; I've got the real work to do."

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   17/08/15, 08:45 pm

Muttering uncharitable words as she left, Martin lumbered over to the sink. His cabin was like a shrunken down studio apartment, with the bed and bathroom all in the same room. It wasn't pretty but hey, it was what he could afford. Splashing some water on his face, he stared back at his reflection in the mirror; Martin was thirty years old, give or take. His hair was in a buzz cut and his face carrying three scars, one along the jaw, another on his forehead and the longest one trailing down from his left eye. That one actually cost him the eye, and what stared back was, despite the appearance, a cybernetic eyeball, the lenses visibly shifting as they adjusted.

Sighing, he washed up and pulled a shirt on. Strapping a pair of boots on to stave off the cold, he made his way to the bridge of his ship. It wasn't that far of a walk, seeing as his ship was practically a small yacht. Though in a sense, that was somewhat misleading; typically when people hear yacht, they think less ship type and more luxurious boat. Martin's yacht, the Venator, was in need of fuel, the jump drive was so shabby Martin worried it wouldn't be able to handle another jump, and the life-support system was on the verge of a total breakdown, hence the cold air. He needed the job he was on his way too, if only to make sure he could keep doing any jobs.

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   18/08/15, 09:26 am

Blink was in her usual spot on the bridge, docked in the little nest at the center of the control panel. From there, she had full access to all the systems for the ship, effectively piloting it herself. As Martin walked onto the bridge for his chair, she chirped "Just in time, I was about to bring us out of hyperspace." Sitting in the chair, Martin said "Okay, well don't let me stop ya Blink." He couldn't see out of the glass windows of the bridge, the barriers up to prevent radiation leaking in from the alternate dimension they traveled through. Then he felt it, the all too familiar tug as the artificial gravity fluctuated, the exit from hyperspace into normal space causing the gravity to....wobble, was the best term. "Exit complete," Blink said. "We are now in the Denali system. Lock coordinates for Ir'leath station?" she asked, to which he said "You have to ask? Guide us in; docking bay three. And send word to Gozo I'm in system."

As the AI carried out those tasks, Martin got up and walked over to the window of the bridge, getting a look outside. The Denali system was technically part of the Maw Nebula, and no matter how many times he visited, the sight always filled him with wonder.....and a small measure of fear. The nebula got its name from the fact that the gaseous clouds that made it up, formed what looked like an open mouth full of jagged teeth. It was a humbling sight at times, especially for a tiny human like Martin. Visible as little more than a spec before one of the green 'teeth' of the nebula, was the Ir'leath station. Non-human, and set up long ago as a mining outpost by the Collective, it harvested the nebula for the elements it made up. It still performed the job, but the station had become a hotbed for all sorts of illegal activities......which was fine for Martin. Meant more work, and more tax free pay.

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   19/08/15, 09:21 am

Drawing closer to Ir'Leath, Martin brought up a better visual of the station on the main screen. The best way to describe the station, was as a giant cylinder. Fifty kilometers in length and twenty in width, it was actually on the small side for space stations, at least those built by other races. Segmented into three parts and with each one connected by a slimmer tube that ran through each piece, the two segments that sandwiched the middle one also contained the mining operation, large 'panels' extended slightly from the station. They were the gravity emitters, gargantuan tools used for mining nebulae as they created higher than normal gravity points to draw in the particulates of the Maw, guiding them in to the refineries for processing.

Humans were hardly new on the galactic scene......but even old stations like this, now considered low class, were orders of magnitude above what the Coalition could manage. It, like the nebula, gave Martin a sense of humility......one that was quickly washed away as they closed in on the central piece of the station, the docks. "Gozo got our message," Blink said from her nest. "He'll have his usual boys waiting by the docks for us, just to make sure we head to him first." Grunting, Martin muttered "What's he think, I've got better places to be on this station?" The ship was in auto-pilot now, slave to Ir'Leath's docking routines. So it gave Martin and Blink time to perform the usual calibration.

Martin was human by birth, but his time in the military had cost him; the eye for starters. Ear drums too, plus his left arm. Even on a veteran's benefits, getting bio-replacements for his missing parts was too expensive. So he was fitted with a cybernetic eye, which he had added to over the years for his job. New electronic ear drums that could pick up more than his old ones ever could, and a cybernetic arm that managed to look life-like in movement.....if it wasn't for the fact it was still made out of flex-alloy, so it had the steely color. But even with those augments, they were the cheap kind, and required weekly calibrations to keep functioning. Which was what he was doing now, with Blink doing the calibrations.

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   20/08/15, 08:44 am

"Okay," Blink said, "the articulation points in your fingers, wrist and elbow have no issue. The problem though is your shoulder; I give it a 65% functional rating. But that means there's a 35% chance that it will fail and you won't be able to raise your arm if things get hairy." Rolling his right shoulder, Martin couldn't help but chuckle and say "Well I was always right handed." Blink didn't look amused.....or at least, appear as amused as a faceless sphere could. Her lights reflected mood, and right now they were a steady purple. "Says the bounty hunter who prefers duel wielding. I'm serious Martin, 35% failure probability is too big a risk to ignore."

Chuckling as he pulled on an undershirt, Martin shot back "So, being a professional bounty hunter where I go after dangerous targets, is not a big risk?" Sighing, Blink blinked red in irritation as she responded "Being professional, means you can handle those risks. But throw in faulty equipment, like your arm, and those becomes risks that can't be handled." Rolling his eyes, he said "Blink, it's just a meet for a job. No shooting involved......hopefully. Gozo loves me."

"He tried to put a bullet in you," Blink said deadpan. Pursing his lips, Martin said "In all fairness, I kinda had that one coming. But we've moved on since then. Now stop wasting time, I've still got an eye and eardrums to sort out." What was strange, wasn't the sentence. No, what was strange was how used to saying it, Martin was.

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   23/08/15, 06:56 am

"Fine," Blink said, though from her tone it was clear she wasn't quite done with the conversation. Turning off all her lights save for the central one, her eye, she started off with basic white light. "Okay, look up," she said as she floated near the ceiling of the bridge. Martin groaned and said "Really? It's a calibration, not a first day tutorial."

Floating back down, Blink said "Never hurts to be careful boss. Bright side though is that your eye has a lower failure probability than your arm. So let's run through the filters." Moving back to her nest, she dimmed the lights of the bridge before floating back up, her eye switching between lights. The augmented eye Martin had, received signals from his brain which made switching between filters easier and faster than a selection screen. They went through the various filters--infrared, night vision, thermal, etc. His ear drums came next, though that was easier to do than the eyes. By the time it was all done, they had finally arrived at Ir'Leath's doorstep, the open doors of one of the massive hangars waiting for them.

While the ship passed through the thin forcefield to keep the atmosphere inside the station, Martin donned his armor; gauntlet--since his left arm had armor plating bolted to it, he only needed the one, chestplate, leggings and even his helmet. Grabbing his weapons from the weapons locker, he holstered his heavy pistol along with his SMG, a pair of switch-grenades on his belt, and his handy knife. Ready to go, he felt as the ship touched down, it's artificial gravity interacting with that of the stations and causing a moment of weightlessness. "Martin," Blink said through his helmet, "ship's docked. Ready to leave when you are."

"Roger that," Martin said. Heading for the center of the ship, Martin thumbed a button along the wall, and the entry ramp began to lower. As soon as it did, the air from the station began to seep in; the smell of fuel and grease, byproducts of air filtration, and garbage. "Come on Blink," he said into the helmet's radio. "Not much you can do in the ship if things go south." Floating from her docking port, Blink hovered by his head. "Alright then, but just so you know I'm sticking close. I'd rather not get plucked out of the air by greedy hands."

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   28/08/15, 10:13 am

Chuckling a little, Martin made his way down the gangplank, exiting his ship and stepping onto the floor of the hangar, he found himself staring at a pair of aliens, both armed and armored. One of them was a four armed Tsk'kree, a bipedal insect covered in brown-green chitin, all six of its faceted eyes trailing Martin as he came over. Each of its clawed hands held a heavy looking pistol, the limbs strong enough to resist their recoil. The other alien, a Trauth, leered at Martin and Blink through goggled eyes. It stood on reverse-jointed legs, it's scaly skin looking slimy despite the lack of moisture. In a typical move of intimidation, it showed Martin its teeth. Trauth mouths were a lot like a deep sea gulper eels in that they were retractable and opened up to be wider than the head; it was intimidating enough when their mouths could swallow an adult human head, but add to it the rows of teeth that lined the inside.....even the seasoned bounty hunter Martin approached with some trepidation.

"Hi there Clicks," Martin said to the Tsk'Kree. 'Clicks' wasn't really its name, but the bugs' name was beyond unpronounceable for the human, so he named it after the sound it made when talking. In response, Clicks raised one of his guns and aimed it squarely at Martin, clicking out "Thought I told you what would happen if you called me that again, pest." The word 'pest' was as much insult for humans, as it was to make up for the fact that the Tsk'Kree really had no word for Human. Martin found it oddly ironic, the oversized bug calling the human a pest. Still, he didn't bother pointing that bit out, instead keeping his cool, and was ever thankful his translator was still working. "Fine, kill me," Martin said. "Then you and Khlork here can tell Gozo why his meet with me doesn't get to happen." Neither alien actually blinked--not simply because they lacked the capacity for it--but the thought of upsetting the boss was not an appealing one.

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   29/08/15, 08:11 am

"Don't go thinkin' you're special little minnow," Khlork said in his rasping tongue and also translated by Martin's tech. "Boss can get someone else for the job just as easily. You ain't special." Even though his eyes were covered by the helmet's faceplate, Martin didn't blink as he stared down the Trauth. "Well he called me here for a reason Khlork, which means he wants me in particular." Turning his head to look back at Clicks, Martin then said "Now come on, unless something changed, Gozo doesn't like to be kept waiting."

Both thugs didn't enjoy getting bossed around by the human, but that human had a point. Instead of arguing, they escorted Martin and Blink from the docks to Gozo. Clicks took the front, two of his eyes trained on Martin in case he tried anything. Khlork stayed at the rear with a meaty looking burster held in his finned hands, also in case Martin tried anything. Blink spoke to him in the helmet, making sure the sound couldn't escape.

"Gee, you seem to radiate trust," she said sarcastically. Smirking under his helmet, he didn't respond as the thugs led him to Gozo; they exited the hangar through one of the large corridors that led to the station proper. Dozens of other beings were walking around, from Humans like himself, other Trautha and Tsk'Kree to even more races. A giant slime trailing slug, or Blorputh as they were called, slinked on ahead of them. A pair of avian, feathered Aaloth were heading back for the hangars, squawking in their tongue about, according to the translator, the impact war was having on their business.

Most days, Martin forgot there was still a war on, and contrary to the usual science fiction, humanity wasn't involved. Well, not yet at least; the short version was that two other groups were involved in a conflict that had been going on before the Coalition arrived on the galactic scene, and that conflict was nearby some of humanity's most recently settled worlds. From there the Coalition issued a declaration of neutrality, so long as the fighting did not carry over into their systems, but just because you declare something, doesn't mean it will be followed. Humanity was viewed by many races as a 'fledgling' race, with very little respect held for them or their opinions. The only reason no fighting had carried over, was because there was no strategic advantage to those systems.

As the walk continued, they emerged into the station's population zone......and even though it was his sixth time inside such a place, Martin still found himself slack-jawed at the sight; it was a city inside the station, long, broad columns that stacked up and down, brimming with both shops, living quarters, and other businesses. Throngs of people, of all species, walked or skittered around. Too many aliens of different backgrounds to name properly could be observed, not that Martin had time to observe much, already being shoved by Khlork from behind as he growled, "Move it minnow!"

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   01/09/15, 08:07 am

Not bothering with a retort, Martin kept his pace. It was going to be a fair walk to Gozo, not that he minded. Being cooped up on the Venator gave him a yearning to stretch his legs, so a walk wasn't so bad. Twenty minutes later, they came to a stop at a rectangular building, Martin recognizing as Gozo's residence. Essentially, it was an apartment building, one of the few on the station that was relatively pristine in comparison to the others. It wasn't occupied by any civilians though; no, this was where Gozo and his inner circle resided, plus their personal soldiers. A fortress in its own right, only fools with a death wish would attack it. And Martin wasn't planning any such thing.

Two armed guards stood by the gate.....plus who knew how many other snipers watching from the windows or hidden in nests. When they saw Clicks and Khlork escorting Martin, they stood by and let the trio enter, though not before Clicks made a sound and a subtle gesture, a signal no doubt.

Walking through the hall, Martin saw that, arranged throughout the spacious waiting room, were several more guards. Heavyset aliens, like the reptilian Roktrels, sported what could have been heavy machine guns, weapons like that requiring proper mounting or power armor for a human to use, but for the muscular aliens they toted the weapons like lighter light machine guns. The walk ended with Martin in an elevator, Clicks and Khlork on either side. At that point, when the door closed the box was on its way up, Martin said "Look's like someone's preparing for a war." Neither grunt said anything.

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   03/09/15, 08:15 am

The lift finally came to a stop, doors sliding open to a spacious room, what passed for a loft or penthouse Martin supposed. Pillars held the roof up, spaced and arranged in an organized fashion. The back of the room could have passed for a window, except laser and plasma weaponry rendered even the toughest of bullet proof glass obsolete. Instead it was a shimmering energy field, able to stop both kinetic projectiles and energy ones. Thugs of all types littered the place, many of them focused on the small show taking place at the center of the room.

Two individuals were locked in a duel; one was a hulking Roktrel, the muscled reptile holding what could have passed for a machete in its hand, spitting and growling in its alien tongue. Dull brown scales and armored plates flexed as it moved, waving the blade before it as he made to strike his opponent. The Roktrel's opponent simply danced back on light feet, a near cocky look on her face.

She was an Endali, almost human in appearance save for several differences; lither build, four fingered hands, skin tone of pale green, eyes with silver irises and a broader, near flat nose. Her pure white hair whipped around as she moved, her own small blade held in a careful grip as she avoided the strikes o the Roktrel. A few short seconds later, and it became all too apparent that she wasn't retreating, but leading her bulky opponent into a trap, dancing around him and leaping onto his back. Twice she stabbed into his back, making the alien scream in pain. Then, the Endali opened her jaws wide, a trait common among her race as they could all extend their jaws wider than a human; large fangs sprang forth, and she tore into the Roktrel's neck, killing him in a single bite.

Kinky, Martin thought as the body went limp and fell to the ground. His killer placed a single three toed foot on his back and raised her arms high, the onlookers cheering and trading scrip.

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   04/09/15, 09:51 am

It was about then that Gozo entered the room, a large door opening from what was no doubt a private meeting room. He was tall, even taller than the Roktrel which averaged at eight feet; Gozo stood at twelve feet in height, which was typical for an Eldritch.

The Eldritch.....among the more feared and mysterious of the known races, they were highly advanced and boasted a sprawling empire and the ships and army to defend or expand it. Tall and lanky, the Edlritch resembled the descriptions of an old Earth fictional deity: Cthulhu. Tentacles hung from its face, obscuring the mouth it spoke from. Four eyes, each pair acting independently, sat at the center of its face, all of them now settling on the Endali and her kill. Gozo moved to the victor, who humbly bowed and backed away.Using one of his four arms, Gozo lifted the corpse up by the head, holding it before him with near careful observation.

Then the tendrils over his face opened, presenting the hidden mouth. Triangular in shape and much like a Trauths, filled with teeth, the dead Roktrel was pulled forward into that hellish maw where teeth and tentacles alike descended on it. A wet, crunching sound could be heard as Gozo tore a piece off and chewed, his thugs all staring with mixtures of horror, disgust.....and among some, admiration. Eldritch were feared by many races, for--among other things--eating other races. Stories abounded of how their ships would, from time to time, descend on worlds outside the Collective to steal inhabitants. They were put to work as slaves, playthings....then eaten, a final act for their masters. Of course, there were rumors now that the Eldritch let their 'stock' multiply on their worlds, for the purpose of farming.

Martin stood there, glad the helmet hid his disgust. Gozo, like all Eldritch, were predators. And they did not hesitate to show their nature. It was a power trip in a way. But he knew Gozo was still a businessman. Sorta, at least. So with luck, Martin wouldn't be next on the menu. "Ghlor orf'takas!" he shouted as he waved the body, translating as "A fine meal!"

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   08/09/15, 08:32 am

Khlork and Clicks stood there, silent and motionless as they waited for Gozo to take notice of them. It wasn't a long wait, his four eyes settling now on his thugs and guest. Stalking over, two of his arms holding onto the dead Roktrel and dragging it behind him, he made an odd sound that Martin recognized as a laugh. A laugh at least, from an Eldritch. "Martin," Gozo said, the translator working without flaw even for the speech of Gozo's race, "so glad you could make it."

"Gozo," Martin said, bowing slightly, a customary thing to do when addressing Gozo in his house. "Happy you called." Suddenly, Gozo thrust the carcass forward, holding it out to Martin. "Care for a bite?" Gozo asked, tendrils no doubt hiding what passed for a sneer among his kind.....unless the tendrils were forming the sneer. Martin could never tell. His stomach was too busy clenching in disgust anyway, so he answered "Thanks, but I thought you had a job for me?"

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   11/09/15, 11:19 pm

"Indeed I do," Gozo said, turning around and leading the way. Martin followed silently, his boots clinking on the tiled floor while Blink hovered close behind. Orange tinted blood trailed from the torn carcass of the Roktrel, Gozo still holding it in his hands as he walked. There was a large desk at the end of the spacious room, sitting before the forcefield window. As large as most sky-cars, it looked for all the world like a slab of obsidian glass, smoothed down into a flat surface with curved edges. Rounding the corner of it and moving to stand behind it, Gozo touched a claw to its surface, and the table warmed up. Dozens of holograms sprang to life, showing things in different alien languages.

Just as fast as it all appeared, Gozo used another command to settle on a single screen that closed all others. "This," he said, "is the job." It was a wanted poster, though not an official one.

With all the different races, factions and empires, some form of law had to be established that could encompass them. What was made was far from perfect, and very corrupt. And Martin happened to be one of the things that came out of it. There was the official bounty hunter, recognized as a 'Retriever' who operated under the consent of the associated groups who had formed the system. Orders were to bring back targets for trial, alive. But, the catch was that Retrievers only went after who they were told to hunt for.

People like Martin, the unofficial and slightly illegal 'Hunters' could take both official and unofficial contracts, though they operated without oversight and had no paycheck from their employers to back them up. In this case, Martin was taking an illegal bounty.

_________________
What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   14/09/15, 09:04 pm

By the look of the poster, the target was an Arachnis pirate by the name of 'Krolashh', current whereabouts placing them in the Ta-lek system. No listing of what he was wanted for.....though the bounty was a quarter of a million credits. Whistling, Martin said "Wow, quarter of a million....surprised he ain't dead yet." Making a chuffing sound, Gozo said "I've not made the bounty.....publicly available yet."

Turning to look at the massive alien, Martin blinked behind his helmet and said "A sneak peek? Why me?" Leering at the human with an amused glint, Gozo said "Two reasons, and none of them compliments. For starters, after that last job you botched, you owe me a completed contract." That sent a shiver down Martin's spine; having an Eldritch come after you was the stuff of nightmares. "Secondly," Gozo said, and it was clear this was the bit he was eager to say, "there's always the chance you die on this job."

Un-amused though very intimated, Martn said "Gee, aren't we the skilled businessman?" Making another chuffing sound, Gozo said "If you survive then you've completed the job and killed an enemy. If you die, then I send someone else to finish the job, knowing you--someone who's irritated me--is dead. How do your people say it........it's a win-win?"

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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   02/10/15, 07:51 am

Yeah, win-win alright. Except for me, Martin thought bitterly. "Well when you put it like that, saying no isn't much of an option," he said. "If it means keeping a target off my back, then I'm in." Gozo let out another chuckle, before holding a single finger out, dragging the holo-poster closer to Martin; as it moved, the text changed and a new feature was added once the stream detected Martin's bounty-chip. What passed for an accept button appeared, and Martin immediately held his hand out, passing it through the button.

And just like that, the contract was accepted, logged onto his implant. Stepping back from the table, Martin looked back up at Gozo and said "So, is that all there is?" The Eldritch made a chuffing sound and said "All there is. Unless you have further business on this station, I suggest you be on your way." Then, it occurred to Martin something blatantly obvious: his ship. "If you want me to do this," he said calmly, "then the least you can do is make sure I get there. My ship is in need of fuel, plus a tune up on the warp-drive."

Gozo didn't quite get angry, but it was clear he did not like the idea of his contract getting hampered. "You would mount even more debt upon what you owe me?" he growled, a low dangerous sound. Martin didn't blink, though only through sheer force of will. He had heard stories of what Eldritch did with the people they ate. Toyed with them first was the polite way of putting it. "No. The fees can be billed to the bounty, so whatever fuel and tune up gets done comes out of that quarter million. Don't tell me you wouldn't like to pay me less."

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"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   04/10/15, 10:09 pm

Looming over him like a nightmarish mountain, Gozo growled out "Or perhaps I should simply kill you and extend the bounty to someone else." That.....had occurred to Martin as well, though he had to hope Gozo was simply trying to scare him. "Come on Gozo," he said cheerfully, trying to ignore the reality of the Eldritch and the dozen or so armed, hostile aliens around him. "You practically run this station, and you don't need me to tell you about the resources you have. Giving me the fuel and maintenance on my warp-drive would amount to giving me the crumb of a crumb in expenses."

Gozo gave it a moment's thought, before leering at the human. "Very well. You'll have your fuel and maintenance......but you'll be getting half of the bounty in return." Martin frowned behind the helmet, but said nothing. A hundred and twenty-five credits wasn't terrible......but considering the costs of fuel and repairs everywhere else in the galaxy, it wouldn't last forever. And that wasn't including everything else he typically spent the credits on. Still, it was better than nothing, and not worth the risk of getting Gozo angrier. So he nodded and said "As generous as ever Gozo. You have my thanks."

Another chuffing sound from Gozo, which he began to compare to a snort, and the Eldritch said "Save your thanks human. Do the job, or else there will be nowhere in space safe for you." It wasn't a threat. There wasn't enough emotion behind the words to make it that. It was said flat and casual, as if Gozo had said plainly that he was an Eldritch. It was said, as a fact.

A fact Martin had no trouble believing.

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"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   09/10/15, 08:15 am

It was nearly a half hour later that Martin and Blink found themselves standing (or in Blink's case, hovering) in the docks of the station, watching the small team working on Venator. Long tubes connected to her fuel ports as they funneled in a fresh supply of deuterium and tritium, something needed for her plasma reactor to function. If there was one thing Martin did not like about his ship, it was the old reactor; the heart of his ship may have been strong, but it was out of date and costly.

"Maybe after this we can finally get one of those new fusion reactors," he idly said to Blink, who was busy monitoring via holo-feed the other members of the pit-crew who were tuning up the warp-drive. "And maybe you'll finally stop picking fights with things that want to eat you," she replied dryly. Snorting, he said "So I'm not a fan of Eldritch. Big whoop, the whole galaxy can get in line behind me." With a sigh, she focused the majority of her attention on her human companion and said "If Gozo decided to snap you in half and pick his teeth with your bones, where do you think that'd leave me?"

He blinked, giving her an inquisitive glance as she continued. "I'm your partner, Martin. Not just that, I'm your banker, navigator, on board mechanic--when I have the damned tools--medic, and oh yeah, your friend. If Gozo kills you, then odds are he's not gonna let me expire of old batteries."

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"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   12/10/15, 09:35 am

Martin turned to consider Blink and her words for a moment. In all honesty, she had a point; Blink had become a crucial part of his livelihood, and had already proven fiercely loyal to him......even if they tended to argue a lot. There wasn't much doubt in his mind that Gozo would see her as a potential threat if left unchecked, especially after he'd kill Martin. "Sorry," he finally breathed, admitting to the AI she had a point. "Just not much of a fan of showing my belly like that."

Her lights flickered, and once more she sighed. "Martin, even though I'm an AI, it still amazes me that I know to stow my pride and you don't. Sure, Eldritch respond and respect strength, but from other Eldritch. Not from someone who is--to them at least--a fresh little morsel getting snarky at the dinner table." He was about to speak, but with a flash of angry red lights she overrode him. "If you want to be successful in this business, part of being successful is in not pissing off the employers! Especially if you plan to live." She would have ranted more, but her other eyes monitoring the engine crew reported they were finished. "Well, the warp-drive's done. And our fuel is.....well, we don't have a fuel tank, but we can make it to the target and back."

Breathing a barely heard of sigh of relief at the interrupted rant, Martin looked back to his ship and said "Alright then. Let's get to work."

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"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   23/10/15, 09:11 am

It was nearly four hours later, after leaving Ir'leath and jumping to warp, that Venator exited the wormhole in the Ta-lek system. Ta-lek was somewhat average, as systems went; a red dwarf star was at the heart of it, with dozens of barren, rocky planetoids in orbit. The only noteworthy member of the system, was Gren and Tra. According to an astronomy survey, Gren was actually the native planet to the Ta-lek system. Tra however, was a rogue planet, one of those worlds of rock and ice that drifted between stars. Until eventually, like Tra, they get snared by the gravity of a star. Tra had been pulled into the Ta-lek system, and smashed into Gren--the simulation videos actually made for a gun watch.

In the end, both planets had shattered, the bulk of their mass though keeping the fragments together in orbit. Now, Gren and Tra were locked together, their halves orbiting one another while countless fragments drifted between them. And that, was where his bounty had set up shop.

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"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   16/12/15, 09:07 am

"Alright let's go over the info again," Blink said as she drifted from her port to hover in front of Martin's chair. Using her light emitters, she began projecting a blue-green hologram of Gren and Tra. "According to Gozo's intel, the pirate base is located directly between the planetoids in the asteroid field. Well, to be more accurate it is located somewhere in the center of the field." As she spoke, the image of the hologram zoomed in towards the center, where the larger halves were replaced by hundreds, thousands of smaller rocks and fragments. Once the zoom stopped, a red sphere enveloped the space to signify the target area.

"Now the base itself has no external sensors; it'd be impossible for any sensor on the base to detect anyone outside the debris field," Blink continued. The image zoomed back out to show Gren and Tra again, with Blink saying "The best way for them to detect any intruders or targets, would have to be through use of sensors hidden at the edges of the debris field that leap frog data back to the base using relays mixed with the asteroids."

Martin let out a low, impressed. "Expensive. They'd have to have enough sensors to give them adequate cover, plus the relays needed to bounce the info back." Blink's lights changed to a light purple, her thinking lights. "True, though even a well funded military--well, human military at least, couldn't afford it. The set up, then maintenance would make it unfeasible." Her lights nearly strobed as she processed the data available to her, plotting out a plan of attack. "If we came in from either Gren or Tra, flying low to their surface, there's a chance we might be able to get under their radar. Without knowing the exact placement or capabilities of their external security though, even this is just a guess. And that debris field is dangerous enough, without taking into account any booby-traps they've set up."

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"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   16/12/15, 09:28 am

"So essentially," Martin said, looking at the system details on his HUD, "we're flying in blind on what amounts to a suicide mission?" Turning the holo off, Blink almost happily chirped "Yup. Embrace that adrenaline boner Martin." Snorting, he got up from his chair and made for the armory. "How soon before we get close to Gren and Tra?" he asked. Following him, Blink said "We can reach Gren in an hour at current speed. Though I'd advise slowing down to basic impulse speeds, maybe blend in with the debris in this system."

Shaking his head as he walked, Martin said "By now they'll have detected our wormhole exit. If they don't have a ship out already, they're getting one prepped right now. Take the ship as close to Gren as possible, we're going with the skimming idea Blink."

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What is a man but the sum of his choices?

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- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   17/12/15, 08:41 am

"That still has a lot of risk," Blink said as they walked through the tiny eating space of a kitchen before entering the cramped armory. "Dammit Blink," Martin snapped, grabbing a pulse rifle from the rack, "no matter what we do, there's risk. Entering this system from the get go was a risk, given we have no idea what their security looks like. We can't wait for them to come to us; we're armed to pursue and disable ships of equal or smaller size, not pirate ships for Christ's sake! Rushing headlong in to the planet has risk of triggering some unseen trap. There's a lot of uncertainties in all of this."

Grabbing several ammo clips for his rifle, he calmly went on "But the only certainty, I can see, is that if we just sit and wait.....if we lose our momentum, then we'll die. Or get in more trouble than we can get out of. On the move, playing offense, that's always been our winning strategy." Blink hovered in silence for a few seconds, lights flickering in thought. She sighed then, and said "I don't agree with you....but you're the boss, Martin. Just remember, when things go tits up--and they will--I reserve the right to mock you about it for a week."

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What is a man but the sum of his choices?

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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PostSubject: Re: The Bounty Hunter   19/12/15, 08:45 am

"Yeah yeah whatever," Martin said. Sliding his helmet on, he heard the all too familiar hiss as it sealed to the rest of his armor, and he was then in his own private atmosphere. HUD readouts showed him various things; power level on the battery-pack, oxygen levels, suit integrity.....in a way, it was almost like the suit was a miniature ship. And that wasn't even considering the more advanced suits that were on the market (or in some cases, not on the market).

While he began loading up on his gear, Blink went about making sure their flight path went as planned. So far, Venator's sensors didn't detect any inbound ships, though she was still wary as the debris field would help cover any tracks. "I'll bring us in at a steep dive for the surface," she said, projecting a model of her flight plan. "Get us as close to the edge as I can during the descent. The real problem is gonna be that debris; our shields can hold off small particles and even a few rocks but the rest of that stuff? There are rocks the size of mountains floating in there, even cities."

"So?" Martin said as he secured his pistol and SMG to his hips. "You've never crashed us once Blink. Don't tell me you're planning to start now."

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"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Deal with the root of the problem, never the branches." - Alex CasaMadrid

"Good men mean well. We just don't always end up doing well." - Isaac Clarke
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