Aurion Reflex

OK, this is not the story I originally intended on writing, not at all. In fact what I started, twice over, was a Sci-Fi Western but I couldn’t make it work, sadly. It’s scrapped now. Not sure if I’ll ever revisit it. In its place I came up with this story, quite inexplicably. This I found easier to make work, much easier. I’ve got a bit of Blade Runner inspiration in here as well as some Metroid, Star Wars and the cancelled Prey 2. The story is pretty straight forward. The main character is a bounty hunter who is given a job to find and capture a target. That’s all I really have to say. Hope you enjoy, Aurion Reflex!

“Aurion…” Goarik cries as he saunters deeper into the scantly furnished room with a wide grin across his face. His tone is one which suggests not only familiarity but cheerfulness, while his arms are outstretched wide from his sides as if he’s anticipating an embrace with the Bounty Hunter. He is expecting no such thing and the bounty hunter makes no efforts to look up from the gear that they are cleaning. It doesn’t surprise Gaorik in the slightest. After all, Aurion is not someone you could call warm or inviting. No bounty hunter he has ever comes across has been. He suspects if they were they wouldn’t have been bounty hunters for long. You need a particular skill set which includes, it seems, a thick skin and a lack of care for what others might think about you. In that way Goarik and Aurion are similar for Gaorik too does not care how others perceive him personally. Professionally is a different matter entirely as it is for bounty hunters. Regardless, the five foot seven inch tall man is here for a reason. It’s why he intends on continuing his chosen approach of buttering up one of the best hunters on the cube shaped forty million plus inhabitant stuffed Nemeiris Station.

“…my favourite bounty hunter. It’s been a while but I have something for you and I think you’ll like it. Right up your alley.” The short man who is largely bald save for the few long fronds of brown hair he insists on keeping says with a wrinkling face. Those same fronds flap about with each and every movement of Gaorik’s head. It is as if they have a life of their own, which is more than can be said for the room they’re in. Not only is it barely furnished but bland, unremarkable. Very in-keeping for Aurion, he thinks, but not a lick to his personal tastes.

By comparison his quarters, a large split-level apartment a number of zones above where he is stood, would best be described as crammed with colour and vibrancy. Few ever get to see his home as Gaorik prefers to do business face-to-face. Some think him old school but that has nothing to do with it. In fact, his insistence on meeting in person has far more to do with knowing who is and is not telling the truth than for any misty eyed wish to return to the ways of old. If modern communication methods could accurately convey body language, nervous ticks and subconscious reactions then he would use them and do away with in-person meetings in an instant. After all, being a diminutive man, by the standards of most on Nemeiris, means that shuffling around is not best suited to his line of work, which is… Well, Goarik doesn’t have a term for what he is. He doesn’t like labels, but if anyone were to make a demand he label himself, they needn’t due to his renown on Nemeiris, he would term himself a solver of problems, a middle man of sorts. Certainly not one to undertake the solving of issues but rather a being who is capable of finding the right person who is and paying them for their services so that problem no longer continues.

“Huh. Take a seat Gaorik; I know you’re going to anyway.” Is Aurion’s blunt reply when it finally comes. If this was the diminutive man’s first time dealing with Aurion, or any bounty hunter for that matter, he might be offended by not just the way in which the words were delivered but in some of those used. He is not, far from it in fact, and so following a quick glance around he settles on a nearby dining chair. It is simple structure formed out of bent pipes. A cheap but effective design when it would have been crafted lord knows how many centuries ago. In fact, Gaorik is convinced it was here when Aurion moved in but that is another story, one he sees no reason to consider for it serves no purpose to him currently and what he wants.

“Nice to know you are hospitable as ever.” Are the words which are uttered prior to a short chuckle which escapes from between the short man’s millimetre parted thick set of lips.  Often they can be heard smacking noisily but as yet that has not occurred.

As he expected Aurion has not risen to the poorly veiled insult. Instead the cleaning persists. Goarik watching is starting to think that if the bounty hunter polishes whatever it is they have in their hands much more then the metal will begin to wear through until it resembles a colander more than anything else. Not that he has intention of delivering such a statement following a quick scan of the room around him, proper this time, to discern that it truly has not changed from the last time he was here some… He can’t recall. Months would seem to be the most accurate conclusion. It most definitely is the word which is sat on the tip of his tongue ready to finish his thought. Though, he is fully aware that months may not be correct. He does so easily lose track of time with all his dealings with their required back and forth’s as a result. What he can say, without hesitation, is that the last time he met with the bounty hunter they were on one of the lower levels, where the crud and grime is at its worst. That job was quite unlike the one he has for Aurion now. Where that job had been about toppling a particularly troublesome, and dangerous, thorn in the collective side of Gaorik and those he frequently works for, this new job he intends on offering is a simple locate and capture.

“I love what you’ve done with the place, very spacious, Zen, homey even.” Is the sarcastic statement which next leaves the short man’s smiling face. He holds his grin waiting for a response. This time he gets one. Aurion lifts her head and looks him square in the face. Her grey eyes show no emotion, no soul even, while her short blonde hair is something he cannot conclude suits the woman’s otherwise slim, delicate face and rich skin. Much like the dark ragged patches which frame her eyes, though look quite unbefitting he feels. Then there is the only real permanent blemish, the scar down the left side of her neck. It’s a jagged and nasty looking wound even long since fully healed as it is. It starts on the underside of her jaw, barely noticeable, and runs in a widening pattern down to a little ways above where her shoulder starts.

“What’s the job Gaorik? Get to the point. You know I’m not one for idle chatter.” Comes the response from Aurion Reflex who puts down the cloth and reseals the cleaning paste tin to hear whatever her ‘broker’ has to say about this job offer.

The ‘broker,’ as Aurion calls Gaorik, smirks. He knew she was interested from the moment he walked in and advised he had work for her. This is why he turns up in person, for the slight movements. For the bounty hunter it was the barely perceptible head twitch from left to right, like she was preparing to cock her head but never got round to it. That is Aurion’s tell. He doubts she is aware of it. If she were, and he isn’t about to tell her, she might be inclined to work on ridding herself of it. A very bounty hunter trait he must admit. Then again no one would ever mistake the six foot two inch tall woman as being anything else. Not due to her size but more due to the Borox armour she insists on wearing wherever she goes. In fact her being parted with her helmet, it is resting a short ways off easily within quick reach, is quite the novelty. She certainly wouldn’t be without it atop her head if they were out in public. Though she does, he will admit, make a minor effort to break up the mass of Borox through the wearing of an x-shaped vest which flows into a cloak-like coat at roughly around where he would guess her waist is. In Borox it’s difficult to tell the shape of the wearers’ body and is made worse by the dome shaped helmet and protruding shoulders.

“Well, I knew you’d be intrigued. Thought to myself who better to give this mark to than Aurion Reflex, scourge of the worst Nemeiris Station has to offer.” This is part of the ‘brokers’ buttering up. He always does it. She might go as far as to say he is insistent about it. For Aurion it is nothing more than the expelling of hot air by a salesman who adores the sound of his own voice. There are far worse in Gaorik’s field of work, if you can rightly call what he does that, who are nowhere near as self-aware or professional as the diminutive man sat before her. And there could not be more of a contrast between the pair, for while Gaorik’s feet touch the floor barely; Aurion’s are bent severely at the knees due to her stature. It isn’t uncomfortable or comfortable. For the time being she is in balance between the two. Too long seated and the equilibrium will slip effortlessly toward discomfort. As yet that has not transpired. It likely won’t now she’s been paid a visit by Gaorik, who she does wish would hurry along and get to his point.

“Still, this mark is not to be trifled with. He is a dangerous one. A man with additions, alterations…”

“Get to the point Goarik.” The bounty hunter urges bored and no longer able to keep quiet about it.

“Yes, yes.” From anyone else that lack of decorum would inflame Gaorik and instil in him a demand he teach the party responsible for the blunder, the error of their ways. Not with Aurion. He knows better than to anger a bounty hunter or take ill the bluntness with which they speak. They cannot help it. That has long since been his conclusion. If he didn’t know better he’d say they somehow were all cut from the same cloth, born to the same parents, but they are not and so it must somehow be a personally trait all share which makes them perfect for the work they undertake.

“His name is Cinlo Bazinvingenier. Quite the mouthful I know, but he’s a thug, a meathead; one with a cybernetic right ‘hook,’ if you get my meaning.” The tone is playful. The raise of the eyebrows and a glint in the almost bald man’s eyes suggests there is truth behind his implication that the cybernetic arm holds a sharp secret.

Gaorik never gives warnings; he gives poorly veiled clues, hints. Being to the point is rarely his thing but Aurion will be sure to keep what he has said in mind if she accepts the job. Contrary to Gaorik’s belief she never decides until the details are presented to her whether a job will be accepted or not.

To her, operating in any other form would be foolish. Though, where she learned that, or any of the things she knows or can do, she cannot say. In fact, Aurion cannot be sure that is her real name. It was simply the name that was emblazoned on the jumpsuit she was found in. The Reflex part on the other hand, that she can explain. It came about when upon waking in a med centre she reflexively ripped the laser scalpel from the doctors grasp only to threaten to cut his head off if someone present didn’t fill in the blanks. They couldn’t but the doctor survived. Aurion didn’t kill him. Whether he’s died since, well that is beyond the bounty hunters capabilities to guess. She never did keep tabs on him. She didn’t see a reason to. It was clear he posed no real threat to her. And if he’d intended to cause her harm he would have done so while she’d been unconscious.

Still, in the years since nothing of her memory has returned. She’s long since given up on the idea of reclaiming whoever she once had been. Many a time Gaorik, who had come to visit her alongside a number of other interested parties, had suggested she might have been nobody. They’d suggested that in suffering amnesia she’d been given a rare chance to carve whatever path she wished for herself. That sort of thinking has never quite sat right with her; the idea of her having been a nobody. Not because of some self-obsessed notion that she would have to have been somebody to end up in the state she did. No, her conclusion was that she had to have been somebody to reflexively react in the way she had when she awoke. She certainly didn’t think and plan her actions prior to executing them. They were ingrained, automatic.  

“I need him brought in, alive. Fifty thousand Eiri paid upon completion and receipt of goods.” A wry smile slips into place and remains on Gaorik’s face. He knows the payment alone will be of considerable interest to the bounty hunter, and so it should as it is a sizeable payment for a single target job. Not out of the ordinary and definitely over the top. If it were out of the ordinary Aurion would’ve already turned it down. She isn’t cheap, and for good reason, but no fool either. She can see a trap a mile off. As a result many think her picky. She’s agree but not for the same reasons others would give, which are the frequent pauses she puts on accepting work. Her reasons, never stated, Gaorik has thus far failed to decipher for it seems she does nothing and goes nowhere. Yes, he keeps tabs on her. In his line of work it is important to know where your best, and most dangerous, assets are as consistently as is possible.

In part he does this just encase they derail and go on a rampage. Such things are unusual but not unheard of, and the last thing Gaorik wants is there to be ties between him and Aurion if she were to go about needlessly killing civilians as a result of some kind of psychotic break. Not that he’d make any attempts to prevent her if that were the direction she happened to be heading in. That could risk his own life, which wouldn’t do at all. Rather, he would sever all ties, erase connections and make it seem as though the pair of them have not only never met but never heard of one another or been in the same locations within days of each other. It sounds more suspicious than it looks when put into practice. And what you have to remember is authorities dive into investigations following the evidence available to them rather than what might be missing or absent.

The bounty hunter cannot doubt that the job sounds easy. It always sounds easy from Gaorik. He has a knack of making everything sound simple. Thankfully, she is well aware of that talent he holds, which is why she always pays more mind to the way in which he speaks rather than the content. From his overly familiar behaviour to his buttering up, all of which is normal, she can deduce that this Cinlo is dangerous but not especially so to someone like her. For that reason plus the sizeable payment she says, “I’ll take it. Payment on completion you said?”

“Yes, with target alive and well.”

“Where should I start?”

Gaorik issues a shrug alongside a statement of, “How would I know.”

The bounty hunter could see this one coming but felt it was worth a try asking. After all, any help is appreciated. Though to expect anything more than the absolute bare minimum from the ‘broker’ would have been foolish. Still, he feels it prudent to add, “If I knew that Aurion I wouldn’t need a bounty hunter. I could send some local thugs in to get it done lickety-split.”

“We both know you wouldn’t do that.” The woman says calling Gaorik’s bluff.

He won’t admit she is right but she is. He wouldn’t dream of such a thing. The mark is needed alive and local thugs, though cheap, are not known for their work ethic. At least not in terms of sticking to agreed upon parameters that is.

With business concluded, Gaorik pushes off against his thighs as if his legs need the added pressure to force them down so he might return to his full height. They do not need the aid but is a part of a long held habit he finds quaint for reasons he cannot give.

Free of the chair Gaorik heads for the exit. His feet shuffling in a way many might categorise as a dance of sorts. To Aurion it looks like nothing but foolishness. Not that she’ll pass comment aloud. Their relationship is a professional one and to get personal would risk that. In the bounty hunters mind there is no need. Gaorik supplies a healthy stream of quality work with varying parameters and permanently consistent pay she would miss otherwise.

“Ta-ta Aurion; I’ll eagerly await your call.” And with that Gaorik disappears from sight leaving the blonde woman to blink slowly and purposefully once. A meagre side to side shake of her head accompanies the blink.

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