Hunter

Marek doesn’t trust Boron. He’s been a bounty hunter long enough to know that men like him rarely keep to their word. Instead they twist the meanings of their statements to get what they want, but to do that with a Hunter who’s a member of the Union is foolish. Does the crime lord not know what wrath he could be bringing to his door by lying or double crossing? He has to. Then that means that there is something, or someone, bigger than the crime lord pulling the strings, he thinks as he sits in the single seat of his ships cockpit. The Ravensclaw is a heavily refitted ship that had once been used for simple transport, but that had been long before he’d acquired it. Now it has thick armour, front cannons, a trio of prison cells and twin cryo tubes. Both the cryo tubes have been wrapped in armour and fitted with repulsor stacks that allow it to float several feet above the ground. They make useful forms of transport for the most difficult of bounties. Marek doesn’t kill his targets, even though the bounties permit the option. Instead he delivers them alive. It means he gets the higher price, and the client gets the bonus of doing as they please with the target. But not all contracts call for the capture of a person. Some call for a transfer or smuggling of items, like this contract.

Marek disengages the locks on his helmet and lifts it free of his head before setting the hulk of metal down on a section of console to his left. He then accesses the data file Boron sent over with the coordinates and sighs.

“Corin.” Marek reads aloud.

“Of all the places, why that one?” Marek continues to himself.

He is the only being on the Ravensclaw and that’s how he likes it. He’s had crew before, even been part of a squad, but he’d never enjoyed it. Plus those had been in his younger days, when he’d been brash and gung-ho. Those days were long gone now, he thinks as he enters the coordinates for Corin.

It’s been years since he’s been there, but he knows it hasn’t got any better. If Boron’s precious Station Beta-3 is the hellhole of the station installations then Corin is its planetary equal. It’s only positives are that no one can blast you into space and there isn’t one guy controlling it all. At least not yet, as far as Marek knows anyway.

Still Marek wonders what a flea pit like Corin could hold that would make a man like Boron hire a bounty hunter and for package retrieval. He knows a man like Boron doesn’t think a bounty hunter is for retrieval, that’s what couriers are for, so that means there’s going to be trouble, and a lot of it. It’s the only reason bounty hunters are hired for retrieval and smuggling jobs. Couriers can’t and don’t fight. That’s a galaxy wide constant.

The nav computer tells Marek the jump will take nine hours. He sighs again as he notes his limited time of ninety three hours. He doesn’t like how much time he’ll be losing but knows he has no option as the skip drives spool up preparing to initiate the jump.

“Just another day in the life.” Marek says aloud to the air around him as he lowers his helmet back over his head and re-engages the locks.

“Let’s see what Corin’s got in store for us this time.” Marek mumbles with a shake of his head seconds before the skip drives fire and the space around him becomes blurs of light streaking across the black.

Fourteen years, Marek thinks to himself as he remembers the reason he left Corin and hasn’t been back since. He hopes he doesn’t run into Yasha as he elects to prepare his gear before attempting to get any shut eye. They didn’t part on good terms.

Marek rises from his seat and leaves the cockpit, passing the blank bulkheads of the corridor that joins the cockpit to the rest of the ship. Then Marek slides down a set of ladders and into the hold, which makes up the rear two thirds of the Ravensclaw.

He ignores the cells, which he fabricated the walls of himself using the hull plating of scavenged Avenger Class warships. The plating is thick and can withstand almost all ammunition types that anyone could be carrying about their person. Though, its inclusion had presented weight issues for the Ravensclaw, which as a result had needed up rated engines to be swapped in.

Marek can still remember the favours he’d had to pull to get this, already when he got it old bird, off the ground, but it had been worth it. He’d made millions of creds in the years since and crossed countless star systems, some of which have a price on his head now. Not that it matters seeing as no member of the Union takes a contract out against a fellow bounty hunter. Unless they go rogue that is. But that rarely happens. In fact, Marek only knows of two who have dared betray the code and he’d hunted both of them down himself. Neither had put up much of a fight. They both knew what was coming and they’d accepted their deaths. It was a pity because they had both been good hunters, but in the end greed had got them. They’d tried for bigger payouts from third parties, thus betraying the contract giver. Marek had never even considered such an idea, especially as creds are worth so little. A couple million extra creds wouldn’t get you much more than the original payout. At least not since the rebellions and annexations started a couple decades ago.

Marek wonders if his work will ever dry up, but he knows it won’t. Too many crooks and thieves out for blood. Each trying to get one over on the other to gain a position of higher standing, he thinks as he checks the charge in his wrist mounted tasers, grabs his bolas, restocks his shock blades and then finally grabs his shock rifle. He closes the doors on his supply locker and seals it shut. Only Marek has the code and that is how it’s going to stay. Not that there is anyone to argue with him on Ravensclaw he knows as he checks the chamber of his shock rifle is clear and clean. He knows it is, but he does it out of habit in the moments before he remote connects the scope with his visors heads up display. He scans left and right with the shock rifle, its five foot long barrel sweeping steadily until Marek concludes that he satisfied everything is functioning as it should be. He slings the rifle over his shoulder and heads back for the cockpit, where he will get some rest.

The Ravensclaw did have bunks and quarters once, but Marek had gotten rid of them as part of a weight shedding exercise when he’d had to upgrade the engines, for a second time, in response to his latest round of armour plating and cannon additions.

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