Gunslinger

Karas re-enters the Ensorio Cantina with the unconscious Velber in tow who he dumps next to the waiting Bendo.

The Guild Practioner clapping now that the gunslinger has returned, mark in hand. Though he wonders if Karas dragged the Garteen all the way from the slums back up to the mid levels where the cantina is located.

The truth is Karas hasn’t. He never had any intention of dragging the diminutive amphibian all that way once he’d acquired his target and had him in restraints. Doing so would have been pointless and overly proud. Two things Karas has no time for in his life. He’s a simple man, which is why he hailed the Exodus equivalent of a taxi. The driver had given him a strange look but overpayment of the fare had put any issues in the Eyions head to bed. Especially when it became clear that the Eyion could pocket the difference for himself and not have to have the excess be siphoned off him by his bosses. It’s why Karas had paid in cold hard credits and not chips.

“Well done ‘slinger.” Bendo bellows as he continues to clap loudly. His smile is beaming and wide and he doesn’t care how many of the still present patrons hear him.

But Karas locks his orange eyes on Bendo and asks in a low voice, “You said I was the only one on the job. Why’d you lie?”

The question surprises Bendo. He hadn’t been expecting to be asked a question by the notoriously tight-lipped man. And especially one with as many words as had been delivered.

“Just business. Anyway, I knew you could handle it. No Avareen was going to be a match for you.” Bendo replies succinctly.

The mention of the large reptilian species draws stunned looks from the patrons who seemingly don’t agree with the idea of crossing the ‘slinger. Or perhaps they’re simply shocked that one of the powerful aliens could be taken down by a mere human. Bendo doesn’t know which, and quite frankly doesn’t care.

But Karas says nothing in response and instead holds out his hand. It’s a clear gesture that states that it is time for him to be paid for the mark he has brought, alive and well enough for whatever plans the issuers have in mind.

“Worth every cred.” Bendo declares as he drops the credit chip for fifty thousand into Karas’ open palm. A proud wide smile continues to sit like a tear across Bendo’s otherwise slim face, as he strokes at the blonde beard proudly.

“I have another mark, you know.” Karas offers plainly and much to Bendo’s surprise.

The Practioner had been sure that Karas was in the cantina looking for work because he had none, but apparently he’d been wrong and the gun for hire already had a job. He doesn’t know why, but that worries him. Karas has never been a man for idle chit chat, in fact he’s probably the least talkative being that Bendo has ever come across. And in the case of some of the races that drift on and off of Exodus that is saying something indeed. Still his curiosity gets the better of him as he feels he needs to know who the unlucky mark is. He’s sure it’ll be a gang boss or some other truly suicidal candidate. At which point Bendo will chuckle in response.

“Yeah, who is it?” Bendo asks ready to laugh in the moments before Karas pulls a holopuck and then activates it.

The holographic image takes a few moments to ripple the distortion that they all suffer from away before the image becomes clear. Once it does however, Bendo’s eyes go wide. The image staring back at him is of himself. Panic sets in and he does the only thing he can think to do, flee. He has to get out of the cantina and away from Karas. But Bendo makes it only a few paces before Karas pulls one of the Strike Bolts from its holster and fires the plasma shot at the back of Bendo’s knee.

Bendo howls with agony in response to the wound as the patrons stay motionless and silent. Still their eyes are eager as they watch the events unfolding before them. Even Kento the bartender, who is still on duty, doesn’t dare to move.

The plasma bolt has burned through Bendo’s knee, but the man, desperate and terrified, still tries to escape. Though he can’t get back to his feet, so has instead settled for attempting to crawl away. He’s failing to make much progress as Karas appears at his side and with a swift kick flips Bendo onto his back. The Strike Bolt is still in the hired guns left hand, while the holopuck rests in his right. Both are down at his sides. Karas has nothing to fear from Bendo. He knows the Guild Practioner is armed with a Bell Pistol but he’ll never be able to get it free, let alone fire it before Karas can end his life.

“Karas, old friend. You don’t want to do this. You don’t have to do this. I’m a Guild Practioner. I have plenty of creds. I’ll pay you double if you just let me go.” Bendo says trying to barter his way out of the predicament he has found himself in.

“We can sort this out. Come on.” Bendo then adds trying to sound confident, but failing.

Bendo guesses that the Guild must have found out about the years worth of siphoning off of funds that should have been going to them, but were instead going into his own pocket. He should have seen this coming. He’d become reckless and arrogant. Sure that he would never be discovered.

Karas simply presses a button on the holopuck that switches from the unflattering pale and translucent image of Bendo to show the readout for the bounty on his head.

“Two hundred and eighty thou!” Bendo exclaims. He can hardly believe the price on his head, but then his eyes focus on the words under the sum. He reads them once and then he reads them again. He is sure they can’t be true. However, by the end of the third run there can be no mistake. The bounty declares that for the job to be fulfilled Bendo must be dead.

“No. No Karas. Please. You don’t have to…” Is as far as Bendo gets before Karas, as fast as lightning, raises his left arm and fires off a single round from his Strike Bolt, which burns a hole in Bendo’s chest. The wound, which is black and cauterised, is right where Bendo’s heart had been seconds ago. But it isn’t anymore as thin wisps of smoke rise from the charred hole that is punched into the dead man’s chest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: