Picture this. You got your good cowboys, and your bad cowboys. Most of the time, it isn't that simple, but for these purposes let's assume one group of cowboys is the good guys and the other is the bad guys. Most of the time, you expect those good cowboys to win, but again that's not always the case. When the good cowboys lose, they depend on the random bounty hunter to come in and 'take care of' the outlaws'.
Welcome to space in 2300 A.D. Just like the Old West of America in everyway minus the horses and primitive gunpowder weapons. More over, welcome to the day in the life of an intergalactic bounty hunter. You have your good, honest tradesmen, and your space pirates. Then you have me, the bounty hunter who's just looking to make his money. There was always someone with a problem with someone else. This led to me having enough work.
The home port for people like me would be on planet Novia in the Onondaga System. Novia has everything a bounty hunter would need. Employers, weapon shops, booze, company and a place to sleep, all there in Novia. In addition to all the wonderful debaucheries, the planet has full facilities for biotic implants like prosthetic arms and legs, nano-bots in your blood stream to repair bone damage and internal bleeding, and a whole array of other options. There was only one downside to Novia, and that was the scoundrels that weren't fit to breathe the same air as honest men, and the native alien population. Union doctrines stated we couldn't disturb the inhabitants except in self defense.
I began my day at the cantina, as always. In here was one of the best ways other than going to the dreadful contract station to find a job. No work was to be had for me, but there was a fist fighting match going on in the backroom that I was drafted into. They put me up against my former partner in business, Rey Smith. Rey and I went way back, and a friendly competition turned into an all out rivalry. This man has been countering my contracts since 2295. He was an overall scoundrel. I had absolutely no idea how we got along before.
"You're a dead man, Seph." he taunted. I smiled briskly and readied myself. Rey opened with a right hook at my face. I outmaneuvered his attack, and plunged a fist into his gut. Staggered, he attempted to get back with another right hook. This time he made contact. It stung for awhile, but my implants began to repair any damage he might have caused to my bones. He followed up with an attempt to barrage my stomach with his fists. After blocking all his blows, I roundhouse kicked his face. Rey fell to the ground, unconscious.
After that little brawl, I went walking towards the contract station. There was no one in the cantina who was offering work, but I did make a few credits for beating Rey. When I arrived, I was confronted by a man in a dark coat, who pulled me to the side. Business was rarely done in person these days, so I must say I was slightly surprised.
"I have a proposition for you, Mr. Brindle." the man told me. "No need to be formal. Just call me Seph and offer your proposition." I answered. "Very well, Seph. Not long ago a package was stolen from me. It was an old and rare book I was researching. Rather large it was." the man explained. Didn't see any books in this day and age. We learned to read from holopads and data consoles. "What was it called?" I asked. "That isn't important to you. All you need to know is that it is very old and unavailable on holopads." the man answered. If this book was unavailable on a holopad, it was either fake or extremely valuable. Either way it was stolen by bandits. Bandits have bounties, no matter how small. Contracts just made them much better targets.
The life of a bounty hunter was always uncertain. There was always the chance you could die while working on a contract. Consequently we often spend three fourths of the money we make from contracts on booze and whores. Needless to say, bounty hunting wasn't work for a married person. The pay off this guy was offering was enough for me to 'rest' for a few months, maybe even enough to retire if I was smart with it. I took the offer and set out to find information from external sources. The cantina was also a great place for information. Then again, Rey was still in there, recuperating from his loss. The homeless people often overhear conversations, so I went to them. I paid a feeble old man one-hundred credits to tell me what he heard. He told me about a ship in the vicinity that was on the blacklist that went by the name 'Scaphium'. Since it was a bandit vessel, it couldn't hurt to take it out. Scaphium was a 4th tier Calypso cargo ship retrofitted into a gunship. Calypso cargo ships were quite large, but they had no radar systems. They were completely dedicated to communication frequencies, increased engine power, and storage. Calypso Industries didn't put much thought into their cargo crafts past getting goods and supplies across the galaxy. The only way those bandits would be able to anticipate me is if they saw me directly, unless they refitted the ship with a radar system. I don't think they were smart enough, because they didn't.
I entered my Crimson Defense Corps CV-4 starship and left towards the said retrofitted cargo ship. CV-4s were the workhorse of the Galactic Navy. Reliable, fast, and relatively powerful, CV-4 starships took designs from stealth bombers from the 21st century and revolutionized them into spacecraft. I refitted mine with more powerful engines that ran on Helium-3. I could outrun most bandit commandeered fighters, and outgun. I had a bit of military training from time I served in the First Sector, which was the general area of our Solar System. We humans always like to think of ourselves as the first, so that's where we put it.
Astrological positions aside, I went towards the cargo vessel when I was contacted by my old friend, Rey Smith. I suppose he wanted to trash talk me about the brawl, but it turns out I was completely wrong. He offered to help me with my assignment. This was unprecedented. I thought Rey absolutely hated me since that contract five years ago. I asked him why, and he replied with this;
"You saved my life before, Seph. You remember that contract where we brought in that shady outlaw? Of course you remember, as it was our first assignment. The man was Gerald Banes, four accounts of murder, twelve of assault, two of rape. You also remember how he almost killed me; then you swooped in and disabled his onboard targeting? I know I'll never forget that day. I'm returning the favor now by helping you." he explained. "How did you hear about my contract?" I asked. "I don't know the details, but I saw you talking to the man in the coat. It must be big if you got it in person. And dangerous." Rey answered. I considered the offer, and eventually agreed. We would find this book together, and perhaps get back to our duo once this was done. I was always one to believe burnt bridges could be rebuilt with enough work and dedication. We flew to the Calypso cargo ship and landed in an empty storage bay. Equipping myself with my pulse rifle and pistol, I exited my ship. I saw Rey jump out with his own sniper and shotgun.
"I'll cover from the balconies. Don't worry; I think I'll recognize that trench coat of yours." Rey joked. "It's not a trench coat! It's a simulated leather hyper carbon fiber compound duster!" I replied. "Whatever that means..." Rey went on. He walked up a flight of stairs to get a better vantage point. He then motioned for me to go forward. The bay was as empty as we thought. There were barely any containers in the storage area, but plenty of surveillance equipment. One wrong step and they would see me. Luckily they found Rey first. I had to suppress their fire so Rey could pick a few off with his rifle. We fought our way out of the bay and into a corridor. We saw familiar insignia on the walls. This was a ship owned by one ancient organized crime ring called the Triads. They had expanded their influence since interstellar space travel was discovered. In fact, they owned half of the businesses on Novia. If they didn't have the book, they knew who did. It was time to find the head of this ship and find out what he knew.
We worked our way to the bridge. Rey's shotgun was incredibly handy when in came to taking out the Triads that were in our way. We made our way into the bridge, but the captain was not there.
"I'll check the ship logs. See if there was any movement of cargo going on." I said. Rey nodded, "I'll watch the door." He went outside while I hacked into the ship's computer. I found plenty of documents mentioning the movement of illegal substances. I also found a strange e-mail on the subject of 'the book'. This must be what I was looking for. It read, 'Did you hear about those Fourth Sector renegades? They looted a Union ship with this crazy book in it. They said they were helping someone, but I'm not too sure. Tell the boss we should make some bargains with these guys. They seem to hate the Galactic Union as much as us.' Of that I have no doubts. The G.U. constantly breathed down the necks of the Triads. All the Triad bail money was the only thing keeping those corrupt bastards from outright destroying them.
This e-mail served two purposes for me. One, it told me who the man in the coat worked for. Two, it told me where the book was. I saved it to my ship's onboard computer and told Rey we were hauling ass out of there. We were off to the Fourth Sector.
© Copyright 2016 JM Troyer. All rights reserved.