Hunter

Wednesday! This story is a little different from the last. It’s still Sci-Fi but it has more action. I like how it turned out and it is darker, but still don’t think it hit what I was originally going for. I had hoped to make the main character darker, but I don’t think I quite managed it. By the way this story is about 12500 words. See what you think and see if you agree.

Marek is stood in the reception room on the top floor of a building that is owned by the man who wishes to offer him a job. He doesn’t know what the job is, but he’ll find that out soon. What’s more pressing to him is how long he is going to be kept waiting. Marek is a busy man and time is money. The assistant behind the desk has said that their boss shouldn’t be too much longer and has offered that Marek takes a seat, but he doesn’t want to. This is business and he doesn’t lounge about when business is to be conducted. However, that hasn’t made the assistant any less insistent, or nervous for that matter. Marek understands the young man’s nervousness though as he knows what he looks like as he smiles devilishly from below his full face helmet. Suddenly the door between the reception area and the space beyond slides open to allow a group of gang members exit. One of them is dead and being carried by the other three. Each of the three look terrified as they keep their eyes low and shuffle to the lift with the dead body that Marek is sure had been in life the gangs boss. He has no feelings either way having seen the sight, but guesses that the delay is due to whatever business they had, which has clearly now been completed.

Before the assistant can say anything Marek strides through the open automatic sliding metal doors and into the space beyond. He doesn’t pay any mind as the assistant shouts after him asking him to come back in a tone of voice that clearly marks just how terrified he is of his boss. But Marek isn’t scared. He knows who he’s here to meet on the top floor of the highest tower of Station Beta-3.

“Hunter. You’re here.” Boron Lockwall calls from behind his huge dark wooden desk.

Boron is the boss of this station. He isn’t technically a gang member, but instead more a crime lord. What he says goes and he rules over this slum of an overpopulated and desperate space station with an iron fist. All the gangs serve under him and if any step out of line, well they end up like the guy Marek saw in the reception, dead.

Boron is a beast of a man, fat with a shaved head, tattooed face, almost grey eyes and a crooked nose. His voice is raspy like he’s been shouting, but Marek knows that the man’s voice isn’t worn or failing. That is just how he always sounds.

Marek says nothing in response as he stops a couple metres from Boron’s fifteen foot wide and six feet deep desk. It’s made out of thick pieces of wood that have been stained a dark colour, with green felt nailed onto a section of the top where Boron’s arms are resting as he grins.

The doors slide shut with little more than a hiss. Marek knows there are two big hired goons, one on either side of the room. Both are armed as they stand there in white suits that in no way help them to blend with the grey walls or the gaudy furnishings. Marek knows that’s the point but he couldn’t care less about their presence. He knows they pose little threat to him.

“Take off your helmet.” One of the big guys says, his voice echoing from behind Marek.

Marek has no intention of removing his helmet which is grey and black in colour with some silver trim. The twin front forks of the helmet jutting below his chin similar to the front of a Spartan or Corinthian helmet from ancient Greece, except shorter. It makes Marek look as though he has fangs as he stands there without moving a muscle.

“No. No. Its fine boys. This one can keep his helmet on.” Boron offers in a calm voice.

The crime lord knows better than to try and make this bounty hunter remove his helmet. He’s heard the stories of those who’ve tried and how they ended up, and none were pretty. While he may never have dealt with Marek before personally, he knows his type, and isn’t about to bring such a wrath upon himself over such a trifling matter.

“Shall I begin?” Boron then asks unsure because of the full face helmet.

The crime lord has to admit he doesn’t like doing business with someone when he can’t see their face. It puts him on edge. He doesn’t have a way of knowing if the man before him is for one a man, and two, the man he is supposed to be. In truth anyone could be below that impenetrable façade and he’d never know.

“Time’s money.” Marek replies simply as his faceless helmet stares back at Boron. The crime lord nods as a smile forms across his face, sure that the man before him really is who he claims to be.

Marek comes highly recommended, but recommendation comes with a price, a high price. Boron can afford it, but still he’d prefer to have not had to hire an external hand. Though, he knows none of the goons in the gangs on his station would ever have been competent enough to do what he needs, so needs must.

“I have a job.” Boron begins. Marek says nothing as he stands there face hidden, clad in his black and grey armour, the plates of which overlap one another to protect his torso, upper and lower arms, thighs and shins. The bounty hunters shoulders, elbows and knees covered by singular moulded pieces of tri-titanium alloy entirely black in colour that match his heavy plated boots.

“It won’t be an easy job. It’ll require some smuggling…” Boron starts making sure to keep his words vague.

“Just give me the details.” Marek says cutting Boron off, whose face goes red in response of the interjection. His two bodyguard’s eyes go wide in shock. No one ever dares to cut their boss off, they both think as they stand there.

Boron hates being interrupted as his upper lips begins to curl into a snarl, but Marek couldn’t care less. In fact, he hoped his actions would illicit such a response from the crime boss, who he knows is used to talking in vagaries encase anyone might catch wind of his grand plans and usurp or undercut him.

“That is not how I do business, hunter.” Boron replies as he stares at the armour clad figure before him.

Boron has decided he doesn’t like the bounty hunter and begins to contemplate whether he truly is necessary. He is and Boron knows it as he flicks his fat tongue at the back of one of his teeth which sits to the right side of his lower jaw. It’s how he keeps from erupting into an incandescent rage. But it doesn’t always work. It hadn’t during his last meeting, which is why the Low Rats no longer have a gang leader. It wasn’t a great loss and had been a semi-calculated act of brutality, seeing as the gang had been skimming profits off the top for themselves. But it meant he’d have to watch the gang closer now, not just encase they dared do it again, which he knows they will as gangs of lowlifes always do, but also to see who takes the premiership in the gang. Seeing as depending on who becomes the new leader of the Low Rats will either result in their continued survival or violent dispatch and ultimate replacement.

Boron isn’t short of contenders to join the upper table of gangs, but none of that is why Marek is here. These are internal problems that he can easily solve with his own hands, whereas this particular job he knows he cannot. Its beyond his reach.

“No details, no contract. No contract, no me.” Marek replies as he stands there relaxed. He knows the two thugs behind him have their hands resting on the slug pistols strapped against their ribs ready to pull and fire at any time.

“Hunter, please. You must understand…” Boron begins trying to charm Marek.

“I don’t have to understand. Either you give me the details without the bullshit charm or I walk. You’ve wasted enough of my time.” Marek says interrupting Boron for the second time as he smiles beneath his helmet. He is taking great delight in winding the crime lord up, as he notes how easy it is. It never gets any harder. They are so used to getting their ways that they are completely out of their depth when they speak with someone on a similar level to themselves.

“Is that a threat?” Boron asks as his face darkens in anger which he is barely able to contain.

“It’s a promise. I don’t do threats.” Marek fires back bluntly as his cocks his head to one side.

“Maybe you should.” Boron says with a nod.

Marek already knows what will come next, but it’s a pity that neither of the armed thugs nor Boron do.

Both the thugs pull their slug pistols but as they come to aim them they are hit by shock blades. The small throwing weapons armed with electrical charge, stab into the two thugs and immediately discharge bursts of electricity that overwhelm their nervous systems. Both crumple to the floor with identical booms, almost in stereo, as Marek turns back to look at Boron who is holding a slug pistol of his own, which is pointed at Marek. Marek had seen the weapon on the desks top but if the intent was to scare him then it’s failed. He simply stares from behind his visor, brown eyes hidden.

“Ready to talk now?” Boron offers sure he has the upper hand.

“Is that a threat?” Marek asks calmly.

“Of course it’s a threat! Who do you think you’re talking to you little shit?!” Boron thunders as he yells loudly, his face red as blood vessels pulse angrily and visibly. It’s an impressive feat Marek knows for a man of Boron’s size.

“You don’t want to threaten me.” Marek replies with a shake of his helmet.

“Why not? I have the gun, hunter. And I’m the king here.” Boron barks with a wide smile. He knows he’s won. Marek can’t best him. He knows the bounty hunter doesn’t use guns, at least not anymore. He’s done his homework and picked the perfect candidate.

“Really? Are you going to make me do this the hard way?” Marek asks.

“Hard way! You are the one who made this…” Boron begins but never finishes as a sudden blinding light sears his eyes. It’s emitted by a high intensity light on his wrist. Boron roars in pain as he shields his face and screws his eyes shut. Then he realises his mistake and forces them open again.

His eyes are burning in pain with spots of light dotted about his vision, but he’s too late to stop Marek grab his wrist and squeeze. Boron lets out a yelp as the slug pistol drops from his grip, caught by Marek’s free hand as he shoves Boron backward. The fat crime lord tumbles back into his custom chair with a thud as Marek empties the rounds from the cylinder and then detaches the barrel, frame and grip from one another.

“Details.” Marek demands.

He knows this wasn’t a trap. It was a test, which is why he hasn’t caused any lasting damage to Boron. But he has made it very clear who is the dominant force here and it’s not the crime lord. Marek knows Boron wanted it to be and that he had hoped Marek would simply surrender and then bow down to him, but that’s not how this works. Boron’s learnt that now. It’s just whether the fat criminal can stomach it. Some can, others can’t. It’s why Marek has the reputation he does.

“I need a package retrieved from Sunev.”

“What sort of package?” Marek queries.

“One that’s very dear to me, hunter.” Boron fires back as he comforts his wrist.

Marek simply cocks his head as far as Boron can see, but below his helmet he rolls his eyes.

“Fine. Fine. The package is a case about so.” Boron says as he demonstrates with his hands that the size is about a foot wide and three feet tall.

Marek knows he’ll get little more than that.

“Retrieval and transit from Sunev back here, inside of three standard days. Our days, not that reformation timescale crap, I might add. Four million cred chips as payment.” Boron concludes. He isn’t willing to give any further details and if the bounty hunter wants them then the jobs off.

Boron hopes the jobs off, simply so he can kill Marek, slowly. He knows he’ll enjoy that and can’t help but lick his lips in anticipation of the idea as he wonders what he’d do to the hunter first. Skin him? Take his hands? His eyes? Maybe all his limbs? Test how good that armour he wears really is. All sound like delicious ideas he thinks as he stares at the faceless man before him, sickened and angry.

“Done.” Marek says after a pause that makes it look like he’s been mulling the decision over. He hasn’t. He’d planned to take the job from the beginning, but he’d never let Boron know that.

“Good.” Boron says with a hint of surprise in his voice. He curses himself for revealing his disappointment.

“Coordinates and passes will be transmitted. You’ll have them by the time you board your ship, hunter.” Boron offers as Marek turns and begins to walk away. The two thugs only just managing to clamber back to their feet now as they hold their heads feeling dizzy and dazed.

“Payment on receipt of the package.” Boron calls after Marek as he steps through the open lift doors and onto the lift where he turns to face back toward Boron who stares at the helmet as the doors slide shut. Boron sneers now that the hunter is gone from sight and promises that Marek will pay for his arrogance, with his life, as a call comes through.

“Leave.” Boron demands of his two bodyguards who immediately and without question obey his order and depart his office. The lavish furniture and art filling the large open space as Boron answers the call.

“Is it done?” The voice booms from the speakers built into Boron’s desk.

“It is.” Boron confirms.

“The hunter is unaware of the contents?” The voice queries.

“He is.” Boron assures.

“He wasn’t curious then?”

“Not overly.”

“What does that mean?” The voice asks.

“It’ll be handled.” Boron says trying to be charming.

“It better. You know what’ll happen if it isn’t Boron. You might be a king on that heap of junk you call a station, but that’s as far as your reach extends.” The voice threatens without a care before ending the call without another word.

Boron sits at his desk eyeing the feed of cameras for Docking Bay 3, where Marek’s ship is docked.

“Hope you weren’t planning on spending the money, cause it’s never coming.” Boron says with a wry smile as he watches Marek’s ship lift from the deck plating and then drift out into the darkness of space.

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