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Old 10-15-2008, 09:52 AM   #1
Sabretooth
鬼龍院皐月
 
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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No Rules For Gods

I remember the first time I walked into the room. It was musty, the air conditioning wasn't working right. The air was filled with a hazy smoke of burning spice. The smell was almost intoxicating. Pazaak tables lined the walls, motley players boisterously playing the vice.

My cousin Rakshol led me in. He pointed to the various bounty hunters, explaining the place to me.

"Now those Zhug brothers you see there? Losers arrived from Duros. They suck. They hunt in packs. Annoy the hell out of me, ya see? Look at them: all the same. I can swear they're all bred by incest. Schuttas-Hey Derget!-Him? Derget: cool guy, but I stay away from him."

We approached the Hutt who controlled the Guild. There were two pale white Twi'Leks in tight leather clothing. I could tell they were twins, and bounty hunters. Rakshol told me they were called the Twin Suns, and were a lethal duo.

Even while dealing with the Hutt they had had an indecent posture, as if they were trying to seduce the Hutt. Those Twi'Lek disgust me. Even as bounty hunters they must appear so lewd and filthy. Half the race exists as dancers in cantinas.

What is worse, they mate with humans. And with other species. They make me want to vomit. The humans consider us Trandoshans as ugly, bizarre, even non-sentient. I'm ready to be called ugly so long as I'm not "attractive" in their faecal eyes.

Once the Twin Suns had vacated the place, Rakshol and I took it. The Hutt stared incredulously at Rakshol. "Tsuka! This here's my cousin brother, Yuado, he wants to join, he's very skilled, yeah, very very skilled; he'll make an excellent bounty hunter!"

Tsuka the Hutt had malevolent eyes. His face was a saggy grimace, and had a distinct colour of Nal Hutta's swamps. I could tell right then, looking at his wild eyes that he was not as friendly with Rakshol as had been described before.

"Everybody will make an excellent bounty hunter, you wormridden mynock. Better than you at the very least. And what's this? "Ooh ooh, here's my brother, can he join too?" You are a pathetic turd, Rakshol. I want to vomit on your face and throw you down the highest skyscraper of Coruscant. What do you think this is, a slumber party? Do you have any brain in that reptilian skull or is it filled with kath hound droppings? Do you even have a skull?"

The Hutt's voice was husky and he had a harsh accent, often coughing violently, ejecting disgusting volumes of phlegm to carried away by a poor little chirping creature that was most likely an slave. In a way, the voice suited him perfectly, I thought.

"So you come to Tsuka the Hutt from your stupid lizard-people planet and you bring your family? And who's going to manage this, your mom? Or is she mating with some other disgusting lizard? Huh? First I have those Zhug who barge in with a whole planet, those ludicrous insect-people in that other corner and two dozen losers doing nothing but playing Pazaak like it's a gambling den! And don't look so smug, you spineless brainless piece of crap, you useless excuse for a bounty hunter. What do you think Tsuka the Hutt's got a brain for managing a planet of bounty hunters? Huh? You think Tsuka the Hutt is a Jedi? That what you think? A Jedi? I should have you killed, you miserable..."

As Tsuka broke into a magnanimous fit of coughing, Rakshol took the excuse to break the conversation and meet up with his Pazaak buddies. "You take it from here, he'll be easy on you" he shrewdly explained, "The Pazaak? Helps makes friends. Trust me."

Once Tsuka had finished his coughing and eased up a little, he took a few puffs of a burning spice, the origin of which I did not know. His pupils dilated and he sighed out all his worries, almost falling asleep. The gloomy, smoky atmosphere helped.

"You still here?" he asked irritably, albeit not as angrily. "Bounty hunter, eh? Bounty hunter. Bounty hunter's a joke. Bounty hunter. Everyone's bounty hunting" he waved his hands in the air, a. I almost pitied him; thought he looked funny.

"Now look that, Twi'Lek twins, Duro people and that stupid insect people race gah. Makes me sick, all. And Sakka isn't sending me extra management. What do you think, this is paradise? Huh? That what you think? Paradise? It's not paradise! It's pain. It's pain on my brain. It's like, it's like" he waved his hands again, as if groping for a proper metaphor, "it's like controlling the galactic senate- all by yourself?" he lapsed into silence. I didn't dare disturb it.

His eyes were unfocused now and obviously affected by the spice. He was high. After several lengthy, surreal minutes, he turned to me slowly. "You still here? Bounty hunter, eh? Bounty hunter. Bounty hunter's a joke. Bounty hunter. Everyone's..." he must have felt the deja vu, because he suddenly stopped talking.

"Henh. Now I'll let you in. You look good. But I wouldn't trust you. You're a trandoshan. I hate your kind. I hate hate them, hate. Heh. But your brother I hate. Hate, heh, more. Hate." he gave a long, relieved sigh, clearing all the knots in his brain. He took a long puff and took several lethargic minutes again.

"Scumbag schutta little. So I- Henh. Now you think you can just get in and be bounty hunting? I hate you all scum. You make me sick. Scaly coldblooded lizards. I want to squeeze your neck with my hands and take out all that blue blood in. And you can't do a damn thing to me. No. I'll just call my... bodyguards? And kill you. And kill your family. And your brother. Or maybe him first. Henh." He broke out into raucous laughter, "Him first! Ya'll like that! Hah!"

After he had composed himself, I could tell that the hearty laughter had somehow helped clear his mind. "Now there are rules that Bounty Hunters have to follow. Do you think you... you... you are upto them? Eh? You think? Well let me tell you the rules. And if you break these rules, you are banned. And you may even get a bounty on you. And then your life goes downhill like a, like a, like a stone going downhill." He thought for a while. "Henh. So here are the rules:"

No Bounty Is Worth Dying For

"Okay, he’s coming in now!" Rakshol announced. We were on the rooftop of a rundown apartment complex in Nar Shaddaa which overlooked a highway. Several thousand meters over the planet's surface. "Get to your position!" He ordered.

He ran to a corner of the roof and motioned me to the other. I would have thrown him off the parapet. Two snipers on one roof? He was ridiculous. And yet he was my elder cousin. He was already in position, crouching against the parapet, rifle in hand.

I took mine, surveying the empty highway. Far below, I could see a busier street, no doubt occupied by less shady citizens. But it was the highway where my target would pass. "In sight!” Rakshol announced. I looked into my scope.
Out in the distance, I made out a sleek, black speeder; no doubt expensive and created with an eye for privacy. The top was closed, the windows tinted black. Our scopes were better, however. I could make out the human inside, about middle-aged, with dark hair and a chiselled face. He looked like he had been in a military before, judging by his stern, disciplined and alarmed countenance.

Seconds passed and I heard a sharp crack as Rakshol fired his sniper rifle. A streak of laser whizzed past, missing the speeder as it passed. I took aim. I fired. Missed. The speeder’s driver was probably experienced. He was dodging shots actively. Either that, or he was a droid.

And just then, I was gripped by intuition. A wondrous force of nature. I stood up on the parapet of the roof. My rifle slipped out of my hand. A melodious music started in my head, calming and yet cheery. I looked down.
The speeder was almost passing before my eyes. I let myself fall. I saw Rakshol run towards me, just for a second. The speeder passed below me. I was plummeting, but it all felt slow. So silent. So harmonious. I was floating. I was falling. I wondered if this is what it feels like to die: to cast away life and fall down that endless hole.

Capture By Design, Kill By Necessity

It was a grimy room, lighted by a sharp light. Rakshol was leaning casually against a wall, his hands cupped as he inhaled the fumes of a local spice. He had a smirk on his face. Below the light, two Gamorreans towered over a cowering human.

The human had dishevelled hair, torn clothes and blood streamed from his nose. His right eye had been blackened and he was squinting miserably. He wailed and screamed as the Gamorreans struck him harder and harder.

"Look at him! Look at him squealing like a, like a- like a human!" one of the Gamorreans laughed. His name was Cob, and he was the wittier of the two. I sometimes almost laughed at his jokes. His companion, slightly greyish in complexion and going by the name of Brokk, laughed at every single one.

As Cob retreated from the bashing, he piped down and saw me. "Oh hey, Yuado- you go on him. I never seen you pull a punch." Brokk looked at me now. "Yeah, he's more of a guns guy. I want to see your fists in action!"

I took a few steps ahead. The human had suffered a beating for at least two hours. His body was lined with bruises. There were numerous cuts, none deep. The Gamorreans knew exactly how to serve a good bashing. "Oh God..." he whispered, "Please no. No no no no no. I don't know please." His voice became incoherent.

Rakshol strode forward. I clenched my fist. Cheers went up amongst the Gamorreans. "Oh please God what did I do to you?" the human wailed. His eyes squinted in the light. I crouched. "Go Yuado! Go Yuado!" I heard Cob cheer.

I lined up my fist and rammed it into his teeth. I could feel a crunch on my knuckles as his teeth dislodged from their gums. A spurt of blood issued forth, coating my hands. I wiped it on my flightsuit. I hate how human blood is always so boiling hot.

"You know what I hate about these God-lovers, Brokk?"
"What?"
"They love God!"

Brokk laughed raucously, rolling on the floor.

He wailed even louder, like a banshee to his own demise. His mouth was a well of black and red. I struck him again, this time in his nose; once more, now in his eyes; and again, into his face. I heard a sickening howl, embedded with weeping. He was in the worst hour of his life.

“Please please just leave me man I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.”
I got up. I kicked him as hard as I could and continued kicking, harder and harder, relentlessly, brutally. A pool of blood formed. I kept kicking. I almost imagined his soft flesh giving way. His painful cries subsided. I kept kicking him.

“Ooh, now that’s cold-blooded!” Cob remarked and Brokk laughed even harder, forming a grotesque background score to my flurry of pain.

I killed him. He was lying there. His body was, I mean. Just a lump of flesh soaked in blood. Bruised and broken. Pierced and cut. Destroyed. I looked at him in that hard light for a while. He wasn’t alive. There was no way he could be.

I saw Rakshol exchange farewells with the Gamorreans. “Nice workin’ with ya folks. I’ll let you guys know if we come across something fun ourselves- Ha! Good evening fellas, looking forward to that Pazaak game- and hey...”
He was dead.

In The Hunt One Captures Or Kills, Never Both

Rakshol’s speeder hovered over a promenade. We went slow, and I bothered to inhale spice fumes. They were soothing, a lubricant for my edgy mind. I could see the blue-violet lights of the nearby shops and buildings meld into a beautiful, pulsating kaleidoscope.

People below me walked around, inhaling the fresh air; observing the imported flora, sitting on benches, being calm. The night sky above me was calm, cool and silent. I lay my head back and stared endlessly, floating in space, not looking back; not looking back at anything.

“Rules.” I heard Rakshol whisper. Had I not turned to him, he wouldn’t have continued.

“They make no sense. On Nar Shaddaa. Amongst bounty hunters. That’s like a thieves’ guild ruling that you cannot steal amongst thieves. Honour amongst thieves? I spit on their face. Honour is for society. We aren’t society.

Don’t look at me like I’m it all. These rules, this creed, all a sham. All made by some stuck-up old guys who want to look like bounty hunters are good guys like everyone. We’re just misunderstood, they think. They’re hypocrites. Blind schuttas who should have been blasted by a thermal detonator. Bounty hunters are not misunderstood.

They want to make it look like- like we’re just doing our jobs. Like we’re everyday members of society. Like that guy there goes to an office, that other guy goes to work at the docks, and we just go kill people with bounties. There’s a difference there. Killing. Dock workers and office-goers don’t kill people. We do.

We aren’t misunderstood. We’re feared. We are outcasts. If I dropped you right down there, in that park: people will walk away from you. Your guns, your attitude, your very appearance tells people what you are. They will walk away because they don’t want trouble; they don’t want to die. You are a God amongst them, Yuado.

You’ll just shoot them and blast them and kill them without mercy. Nobody will stop you. You will decide whether in the next minute they will be scurrying down that stairwell or hugging their loved ones or dying. That is the sort of power us bounty hunters command. How could anyone think of rules for gods?

When you point a blaster at a man, he will start praying to his god. But he’s not praying to some invisible being, some meaningless idea floating in the air. He’s praying to one very practical person: you. You are his god. You decide whether he lives or dies, whether he does what you want or not.

That is why people don’t believe in gods anymore. Because now they know that praying is only a dandy word for begging. For begging at the feet of the man with a gun. And because of the Jedi. The Jedi don’t believe in gods: they believe in the Force. And it sure as hell works better than gods, because these Jedi are twisting minds, killing people, moving things without touching them and so on.

You tell me, Yuado. You see a Jedi before you, is he not your god? Isn’t he the person who will decide whether you live or not? That’s praying, brother. Begging at the feet of this Jedi. Begging. They just try to sound more dignified by saying that they’re begging to someone nobody has even seen. Liars.

We bounty hunters don’t do that. We kill for money, plain as that. We’re not trying to forget violence and death and all that crap. We accept it, we embrace it. What is so wrong with that? I’m gonna tell you one thing, Yuado: crime is the most honest profession in the world. Period.”

His words never came out in a line. They were like ideas, wafting from his mouth, dancing and waltzing in the air like the creatures below. In a way, I felt like I was the feet of some profound Jedi Master; like I was licking his wisdom. I had never believed that Rakshol thought so much. He didn’t look like it. I didn’t even know what I should think of that.

I looked over my shoulder into the backseat, where a little human girl cowered in fright. I noticed that her eyes were closed and that she was, in fact, sleeping. I wondered what she was dreaming. What do humans dream? What do kids her age dream?

I looked back at the wispy lights and calming breezes. We were passing out of the populated area. I felt a lot calmer, like nothing even mattered anymore. I felt completely at ease; my worries shoved back to a corner of the brain too far to reach anytime soon.

Minutes passed as we silently cruised into a dilapidated section of the city. Darkness crept over us, the fancy lights now only a charming, dreamlike memory. Yet, the darkness was more soothing; like a shadow passing over you after a hot summer day.

It was so calm, that it just had to be disturbed. A sharp explosion rocked the speeder; shaking the two of us back to reality. Looking over the sides, I saw an open terrace. A Gamorrean fired his rocket launcher at us. The speeder slid through the air, Rakshol pushing the thrusters and sending it flying.

The rocket was chasing us. The first strike had already taken out one of our engines, which had sent our speeder on a permanent bank to the right. As we initiated a slow spiral towards the terrace, the other rocket hit us, a ball of flame hitting us. I checked on the girl; she was alive. There was raw fear in her eyes.

Before I knew it, I felt the horridly rude jolt of the speeder crashing against the terrace’s floor. The speeder screeched, trying to escape the terrace. We finally came at a halt a few feet away from the railing. We got out immediately to face our adversary.

Bounty Hunters Will Not Interfere With Others’ Bounties

“We’re here.” Rakshol declared and parked the speeder. We were in what looked like a gallery that doubled as extra parking space of a high, derelict building. The gallery was shaped like an egg, and had two doors on either side, which I don’t think anybody had ever used.

The platform was dark and illuminated only by the faint light of the ecumenopolis and a sharp light from a solitary post in the middle. I saw a figure in the gallery as we came in. We got off and approached him. I got a better look at him: he wore a dark crimson robe; he was a Twi’Lek and had a very concerned face. He had a little human girl with him.

Cob and Brokk were there. Just then, I saw Brokk mercilessly strike the Twi’Lek with his Gamorrean Cleaver: a monster of an axe; humongous and wielded fiercely by the Gamorreans. The strike cleanly beheaded the man, whose body fell down.

The girl screamed at a pitch I didn’t think was possible for humans. Cob and Brokk were laughing hard when we came in close. “Having fun?” Rakshol asked, a grin on his face and a lump of spice in his hand.

The Gamorreans just grinned at us. Between them, I could see the horrified girl more clearly. She must have been about 6 or 7 years, by my reckoning. Her face was pale, although I couldn’t tell if it had always been. Her hair were light blonde, and her face was like a doll. She looked cute for a human.

“I don’t believe that piece of crap,” Rakshol commented, motioning at the dead Twi’Lek. “Guy puts her up on the Missing People list. Like her parents’ from Nar Shaddaa- perverted little- I bet slavers were all over her.”

There was a bounty on the little girl, who once answered to the name Vonna, but had now fallen silent and broken. The bounty had been put up by the Slaver Syndicate, which did not come as a surprise.

“Where’s Fordan? He loves slaver bounties. He’d be on her like... on her!” The two Gamorreans laughed horrendously. Vonna’s expression didn’t change, but that grief-stricken horror was somehow apt at the moment, whichever way you looked at it.

She reluctantly stumbled as the Gamorreans dragged her. “Now hol’ up there fellas, that’s our little bounty.” Rakshol grinned. The Gamorreans grinned back. It was like a contest of grinning, and the Gamorreans would win hands down. “Now it’s ours.” The Gamorreans roared back.

“Look, she’s ours. We own her hide. Hand her over.”

The Gamorreans laughed. “Well, we have the girl, we have a speeder; and we’ve got a brain right here.” Brokk retorted. I learned that Brokk and Cob wanted to sell the girl directly, and cut out the middleman.

“Own her? What does she look like she’s got a tag on her? You got a tag of his name, little girl?” Cob joked. He poked the girl with a fat finger. “Where you got a tag, little girl?”.

Rakshol began, “I don’t know what you guys do and where you got your contacts, but I’m a simple bounty hunter here, and I want to collect the bounty on her skin, so if you’ll just...”

“Well, we want her bounty too. Except it’s not the bounty you’re thinking of.” Brokk said. “Pervert.” Cob whispered and the two laughed as if insane. “Hey, how about the little girl decides?” He crouched, “Pick quick! You want to go with evil and bad Uncle Lizard there, or this cute little piggy-wiggy?”
“I’m serious.” Rakshol asserted. “Hand her over. You’ve had your share of slaves.”

Rakshol’s tone had become grim. He meant business. We stood between the Gamorreans and the speeders. There was no way we were going to budge. But we did. Rakshol gave me the signal.

The Gamorreans were amusedly observing us as we decided to circle them. Had they been smarter, they would have attacked right then. Rakshol went for the girl, while I circled around to Cob, who was standing away now. It was an exercise we had discussed before.

Rakshol grabbed the girl’s hand brusquely, with just enough force to slip out of the pig’s hand. The jerk was so abrupt, I could have sworn her hand would have come off. The threat put the Gamorreans into action. Grinning wildly, they began advancing towards Rakshol.

A bounty hunter fight is tricky business in the sense that nobody wants one. Bounty hunters fighting each other is a sure way for expulsion; and more importantly: a bounty on your head. The only way to get out of a bounty hunter fight alive was to die. I think both we and the Gamorreans knew this perfectly well.

I saw Cob reach for his Gamorrean Cleaver, almost as high as a short human and powerful enough to cleave you through and crush any bones that get in the way. There was a reason they still used Cleavers in the age of blasters and repeaters.

Cob was gripping the cleaver. He must have been fantasising swoops and strikes when I grabbed the cleaver from his hands. His back was turned towards me, and so the Cleaver came in my hands easily, catching him by surprise. The Cleaver was lighter than I had expected: it stayed in my hand rather than dropping to my foot. Just as Cob turned, I struck.

The Cleaver is an axe like no other. Using it feels like commanding the very Force itself. It feels exhaustingly heavy; but cleaves like a Jedi’s lightsaber. My lightsaber went through Cob’s chest, striking open a valley of a wound, which would have normally caused a human to die of shock. But Gamorreans are strong. Strong, fat pigs.

Cob squealed, attracting Brokk’s attention. I made one more swoop, then another; missing both. Now the axe felt heavy. I tried once more, taking cautious steps to stay in range as Cob huddled back. His squeals and screams were unlike any I’ve heard. It isn’t everyday you see a Gamorrean die in combat.

For my fourth blow, I tried to recreate the magic of my first. This time, Cob managed to evade me, jerking back for the railing of the balcony. The blow cut through air and then lodged firmly into the Gamorrean’s foot. I almost winced. Blood erupted like a volcano. Cob’s screams were deafening. Time suddenly fluctuated.

Brokk was facing me. He looked like a transmogrified demon, his frame against a lamplight behind him. I couldn’t see his face, and I didn’t want to. Rakshol had managed to escape to his speeder. He had a worried look on his face, I could tell. The sort of worry that says “Get in now or I may have to go without you.”

For half a second, I tried dislodging the Cleaver, which was jammed well into Cob’s foot. I decided against it when I saw another Cleaver coming at me. I dodged it. Brokk was big. Getting past him to the speeder would not be easy. But not impossible.

I surprised him by making a move that he would never expect: meeting him. I dashed straight towards him as he prepared his cleaver for what would have been a spine-breaking chop. Instead, I managed to run right below his arm. He wasn’t slow, though.

He brought his cleaver down on me mid-air. The blade’s edge didn’t hit me, the span did. And it hit hard. I was surprised it didn’t break my spine. It made me stoop as I tried to run. I stumbled, and then fell. Hard durasteel floor embraced me with all the love of a long-lost brother.

Time slowed now. I turned. Brokk had his Cleaver in hand, above his head. He was ready to strike. And he did. I rolled away from the blow and got to my feet. For just one moment, when I was poised to run; I could see rage in Brokk’s eyes. But rage wasn’t alone. There was rage, shock, horror, frustration and even fear. If eyes are windows to our brains, Brokk’s were wide open, and his brain was a tumult of emotion.

I ran. When you run for your life, it feels like the wind is with you. Like you aren’t using your legs. The wind is cradling you and being your chauffeur, taking you where you want to go. I flew. Raw, unbridled, unexplainable energy gushed me forward to Rakshol’s speeder.

I stepped on the railing and launched ahead, imagining a gigantic cleaver missing me by a hair’s breadth. I landed into the speeder as it was sliding out. I didn’t turn back until I had cooled down, and by then we were quite some distance away. Rakshol didn’t say a word to me until then.

He asked, “Did you kill him?”

I didn’t know the answer to that question. I wasn’t even sure if Brokk had killed me. I didn’t think of anything as my mind settled in the phantasmagorical lights of the approaching square; its blue-purple neon lights soothing me. Spice fumes filled the speeder.

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Old 10-15-2008, 09:56 AM   #2
Sabretooth
鬼龍院皐月
 
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 9,365
People Don’t Have Bounties, Acquisitions Have Bounties

“That’s not how it works. No. That’s not how it works. You don’t just, buy magnetic connector hooks without telling your partner. You don’t just jump off of freaking skyscrapers. You don’t attempt suicide like that. Because I sure as hell don’t know what you did there and don’t even want to know anymore.

You know what? I hate you. It’s true. You make me hate you. Do you have any idea of what the consequences of jumping off of that building were? What was I going to tell your parents? That I couldn’t take care of you? That I’m a worthless damned lizard that can’t take care of its bloody brother? No, Yuado: that’s not how it works.

You know what’s bad? A bounty hunter missing his target. And what could be worse? A bounty hunter missing his target and losing his partner. That’s so bad, it doesn’t even stand on the scale of bad. It’s that bad. I should have you reported for risking your life. This is bounty hunting, not war. You don’t have to commit ritual suicide if you miss your target. We’re not freaking Wookiees. You hear that? Are you a Wookiee? Huh? Are you a Wookiee?”

Our target’s name was Merat Hrasneor. I knew nothing of him apart from that. Human, around six feet tall. Black hair, pale face and always wore a visor over his eyes, obscuring them. He had a chiselled face, a well-exercised body and a military discipline.

He knew that he had a bounty on his head. It was a bad idea to have a bounty on your head and be on Nar Shaddaa at the same time, seeing as how its just and fair laws were dictated by the Hutts, who also controlled the bounty hunting guilds. There was only one location we knew Merat could run: the docks.

We were still a way off from the docks, in what can be called a rural district of Nar Shaddaa. The streets were vacant, ghost towns, almost. I had no idea what Merat was doing here, but his speeder wasn’t stopping. It was, however, taking turns. Random turns, to throw us off our tracks.

“This guy. Now this guy. I want him dead. No capturing. This isn’t about the bounty. It’s about killing. I want this man dead, Yuado. I hate him. You know why I hate him? He’s a schutta. One of those schuttas that prey on the low-life. A loan shark. He’s one of the reasons I went to bounty hunting.
Hell, he’s the reason I got forced into bounty hunting.

My early days in Nar Shaddaa were crap. I was mugged the first day here. I lived on the streets. Ate filth and crap. I tasted peoples’ boots. I begged. Then I saw a friend, who told me to borrow money from Hrasneor. I shouldn’t have listened to him. Hrasneor was insane.

He wasn’t a money-lender. He was a freak. He had henchmen to extract money from you. The very next day. Literally. He was in it for the fun. He’d kill the poor and loot them. He preyed on the weak. I met his thugs the next day, when I was trying to rent a room. They wanted everything I’d bought, and more. They wanted my credits, all my possessions, which they would sell. They wanted my body for slave trade.

I told them to space off and a fight broke out. I killed two of five. The other three were strong. One of them was a Trandoshan, and he didn’t do anything. He didn’t even react. The schutta had forgotten all about his homeland. They held me by my feet and I dangled over the edge of a street. I kissed their feet and they let me live.

Then I threw a flash grenade and escaped. They never found me. See this? I bought this cloaking belt that very day by selling the rest of my grenades. Better run that fight. And better hide than run. I still keep it with me. They don’t follow me anymore, but I don’t take chances. I never take chances.

I hate that man. There’s nobody I hate more than him. I’m not chasing him for the bounty, Yuado. I want him dead. I want him to taste his own blood. I want him to lick my boots dying. I want to hold him over that street’s edge and see him crying. This is personal. I want to kill him. You know what you were doing?

You were letting him win. You were like making me fail. I’ll kill you before letting him kill you. I can’t let him. He won’t harm me anymore. I am not afraid of him. He’s not going to take anything from me.”

The revelation had an effect on me. Rakshol had always been secretive about his early years in Nar Shaddaa. We were on a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. I didn’t know if I should hate Merat as much as Rakshol did. It took a while to dawn on me, what Rakshol must have been through. To be chased day and night by thugs, to be reliant only on your cloaking belt, feet and whatever instinct you could spare.

The sharp, grim look of Merat’s face seemed to transform for me. I held it in admiration before, and now it was like that of a serial killer. A cold, tactical murderer. I wasn’t sure if that wasn’t an admirable quality.

“This will be end of it. No more hiding. I will gut him with my lasers. He will suffer. He will suffer so hard. This isn’t for a bounty. Nobody’s winning anything today. This time, the bounty is mine. Here. In my head.”

Merat’s speeder had disappeared into a private communication booth. Rakshol knew better than to infiltrate it. He wasn’t blinded by his rage. The private booths were heavily secured and studded with security cameras. Also, Merat had taken his bodyguards with him, who looked at least as frightening as he did.

Rakshol took a turn and switched to turbo, shooting past traffic. “I have a plan.”

No Hunter Shall Refuse Aid to Another Hunter

Calm breeze again. Our speeder burned in a corner. Brokk was right ahead of us. Vonna was between me and Rakshol. Brokk was armed to the neck. His belt was packed with thermal detonators. Two stylish blasters. A cleaver on the back.

Brokk was prepared for war, and war it will be. There was no getting out of a bounty fighter fight. It was quite a schoolyard fight, where if one were to rat out on the other to the teacher, the other would be reprimanded. Tsuka was our teacher and this playground had blasters.

Tension was rife on that platform, where the four of us stood like frozen bodies. A smoking rocket launcher lay a few inches from Brokk’s feet. I couldn’t see any ammo for it.

“Look. Let’s just forget this. Give me the girl.” Brokk began. I reminded myself that this man fired two rockets at our speeder.

“No.” Rakshol replied. He wasn’t afraid, just wary. Cautious.

“You don’t understand. I need your help. I-I’m sorry for that speeder, please, listen to me- I need your help, guys. Cob is dying. He’s- dying, man. I took him Badara, the doctor.” Badara was a medic who had a thriving business treating bounty hunters, mercenaries, thieves, thugs; anyone normal hospitals would not admit. The twist was, Badara would charge outrageous amounts for his services and had ways to exact his means: both through his agents, and his medical expertise. Some called him Medic of Murder.

“So Badara knows?”

“No. I didn’t tell him anything. He didn’t ask. Ho-honest guys, listen to me- he doesn’t know, I swear by it. He wants- wants a lot of cash. Eighty thousand credits for Cob’s medicine. Says its difficult to fix us Gamorreans. Please, listen- I need that money, man. That girl has my money.”

A bounty on the girl would only yield a few thousand credits max, but Brokk had contacts. He’d sell her straight to the slavers; maybe extract some extra cash somewhere along the road. And then spend it all on pazaak and spice.
“I don’t have the money to save lives, man. I need that girl. Give me that girl, Rakshol and we’ll forget this. Nobody- nobody knows anything.

Everybody just walks away, everything’s settled. Eye for an eye. We’ll never meet again. Please, Rakshol- please.”

“We aren’t giving you the girl.” Rakshol coldly replied. He appeared unfazed by Brokk’s sob story. Rakshol was suspecting an ambush. He was right: for all we knew, Cob could spring up from nowhere and launch a rocket into our butts. Or something even more ingenious.

“Don’t do this to me, man. I swear nothing’s gonna happen. Just hand over the girl and we all forget this. It didn’t happen. You want profit? I’ll give you everything that’s left out after Badara’s fees. Everything. But just don’t do this to me. You have a brother. Cob is like a brother to me, Rakshol. I need him. Please.”

I could somehow tell that Rakshol wasn’t listening. He was thinking. Devising. “We’ll make a single deal with you, Brokk. You give us your speeder, and you take my finger, ‘cause this girl isn’t going to your stable. She’s our property. Space off.”

The words weren’t kind on Brokk. They came for him like winding missiles, hitting their spot accurately and remorselessly. They were expected, and yet unexpected. Brokk didn’t say a word. Not an emotion flickered on his face.
“Die.” He had a tear in his eye.

The next few moments unfurled rapidly. Brokk ripped out a flash grenade and tossed it at us. I could see him equip his blasters just as the world burst in a flash of white. I felt a hard push: it was Rakshol. Then I heard blaster fire, which I saw came from Brokk. I groped for cover, and found some in a stack of empty crates.

It took me several seconds to get my bearings. The white-hot light tends to burn into your brain and dissolve your eyes. I began to get focus with a blurry, dizzying vision. I could make out Brokk firing blasters clearly, but Rakshol was out of sight, as was Vonna. I heard her scream. It was a blood-curdling scream. It was piercing, driving out the haze, making everything clearer.

There were no blasters in my holsters. I had left them in the speeder, which was now a burning mass of metal. I felt for the backup blaster in my boot, and found it. I had only one extra power cell for it, and this one was going to expire in 5 shots. Rakshol had more, I figured: he was battling away behind a symmetrical set of crates.

I saw Vonna then. Her face depicted an acute fear, augmented by pain and desperation. It was bathed in tears and her face had become reddened by increased blood flow. She looked pitiful. She screamed and shrieked as the skirmish raged. My gaze wafted from her miserable crying to the hardened emotion in Brokk’s eyes. He looked so resolute, determined. I heard him muttering to himself. Or crying.

Rakshol’s clip went out and he struck Vonna with the butt to quiet her. She fell silent suddenly, and passed out. Brokk was advancing. He wanted the girl at any cost. He saw me peeping, just as I had my blaster aimed at his head. I flinched and ran. His blaster’s shots came for me. I looked for a backup shield in my other boot and found one.

Just as I turned around to face Brokk again, I saw him charging at me. He had the Cleaver in his hand. A slight blue shimmer of an anti-blaster shield ran along his body. Vengeance was in his eyes. His shield brushed off Rakshol’s shots. He was coming for me.

I stepped back. I felt the railing behind me. Brokk launched himself off the crate over which I had been peering. He was in the air, a magnificent flying pig. His Cleaver was high in the air, about to come down in a swoop that looked like it could break through the very metal of the railing. And just at that moment, I felt a friendly hand grab me away.

It was Rakshol, and he saved my life. Brokk’s Cleaver struck the railing with an ear-piercingly loud sound. Rakshol tapped me and we ran into the open, where our blasters would rule over Brokk’s melee. Only after putting a considerable distance between us and the railing did we look around. Brokk was there, heaving in rage, still shimmering blue.

Rakshol had his eyes set on Brokk intently. Through the scope of his modified pistol. Brokk was running manically, making dodges and ducks and other awkward movements, that were making it hard for Rakshol to get a clear shot. I subconsciously stepped back as Brokk approached. Rakshol caught Brokk’s gaze. “No, don’t!” he yelled.

Suddenly a bright flash engulfed us, not unlike the one we had felt previously. Flash mine. Brokk had the place well-prepared. For the first few seconds, a flash explosion feels like the entire world just burst before your eyes. Like everything’s disappeared, and it’s all finally over. But sadly, nothing ever ends. I learned this the hard way.

Just as soon as the first shapes were visible to my eyes, I saw that Rakshol had disappeared from my side and Brokk’s furious jaw was a few feet before me. I started to run. Still dizzy. Just then, I felt the sharp metal Cleaver hit my waist.

It wasn’t a perfect blow, in fact, it had hit me by chance. I faltered, stumbled and almost fell. I felt the blood oozing out of my wound, splattering across the floor. The blow was terrible, even though I had not felt its full fury. It was like an entire speeder knocked you over. I tripped.

Turning around quickly to face Brokk, I noticed a trail of blood I had made. Brokk’s Cleaver was high in the air, ready for a devastating chop. I didn’t see Rakshol. I assumed he had made off to Brokk’s speeder. Just as the pig had raised his axe to slaughter me, a sharp, powerful burst of laser struck his hands. Rakshol.

The Cleaver fell with a heavy sound as Brokk looked at his burnt hands in horror. His shield had expired. I didn’t feel Rakshol as he dragged me away from there. I tried to get up then, and ignore the blinding pain along the ride side of my waist.

Brokk hadn’t lost his hands, however. Gamorreans could withstand such attacks to a much greater degree than we Trandoshans ever could. He couldn’t hold his Cleaver or blasters, though. He could somehow throw his grenades perfectly. This time, he was more interested in the line of thermal detonators strapped around his belt.

Rakshol saw this. He pushed me away, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to run. He split the other way, and made a mistake. Vonna was standing right beside him. Rakshol tripped over her. He fell on her, and I heard the sound of breaking bones. His knee went straight into her jaw as he fell. I saw blood gush from her mouth.

Her scream was stopped by guttural moans. Rakshol got up in horror. Brokk hadn’t seen any of this, I believe. I didn’t see him. The scene was too bizarre. The little girl was a broken mass lying on the floor. I don’t even know if she was dead. As Rakshol stepped away from her, Brokk bellowed. Rakshol was apparently very irritated, or confused.

He picked up Vonna by her hair, which resulted in a grotesque scream. She was alive. He grabbed her by her neck. He had hate in his face. “You want the girl? You want the girl? Take your girl!” he flung her at him.

As he did, Brokk had, out of rage and assumption that Vonna was dead, begun to throw his thermal detonator. The scene unfurled in milliseconds. Vonna flew through the air, lifeless, limp and bizarre. Brokk’s thermal detonator escaped his arm and began its trajectory, interrupted by Vonna’s body as it came flying towards him.

Vonna’s body fell at his feet. Just for one second, I saw a look of despair in his face. The one expression saying that he had lost it all. He had failed. He had finally broken everything that his life was, or could have been. And it was a fitting expression. A deafening explosion.

I cowered and fell, covering my ears. I was getting dizzy with the blood loss. The world was getting blurry, and not in a pleasant way, as earlier in the speeder. I felt Rakshol’s hands cradle me. “It’s going to be alright. You’ll be fine. It’s okay. It’s alright. You’re fine. You’re gonna be okay.” His words came for me. They were surprisingly reassuring. And true.

My body would heal itself in only a few days. I felt the world dissolve and seep into my head soothingly. I knew that my brother would take care of me.

No Hunter Shall Slay Another Hunter

The speeder slid into a platform. I got out.

“Now just to make sure I get this into your head nice and clear. You head to that cell. You have the key, or did you jam it somewhere up your- okay, then you stay ready. I’ll be right there- where? There. I plant those charges on that maintenance droid in the middle of the street- that one. When our man is in sight, that blows.

His speeder stops. Or slows down. He can’t drive through an explosion. You fire. What do you do? You fire. Say it. You fire. Right. What are you not supposed to do at this moment? You are not supposed to miss. You are not supposed to jump. You aren’t supposed to spring up hooks out nowhere and grab onto random speeders. You’re getting me?”

He checked his watch.

“Should be out by now. I’m moving. Run to that cell. He- look at this.”

Rakshol had sliced into one of the security droids outside the secure private booth where our target was making his secure, private call. Our target was moving out. His gait was as disciplined and stern as ever. His steps were regular, his arms moved in perfect rhythm.

“He’s out. Go go go! Time is of the essence, whatever that means. Ha! Meet you later then. Don’t screw up. You hear what I said? Don’t screw up.”

I didn’t quite know what went in my mind as I passed the well-lit boutiques of the Wirra shopping complex. I looked for a maintenance door and found one, as expected.

A series of maintenance tunnels and doors took me to the underside of a skywalk suspended between to buildings. It consisted of a long, empty and derelict corridor that was lined with a number of cells. I do not what these cells were for. They looked like prison cells, or were big enough, at the very least. Perhaps they were used as maintenance closets.

I stepped into one. It had a number of slits, like windows. I could almost imagine them as bars of a prison cell. I slid my rifle in. It was a disintegrator. Disintegrator rifles are outlawed by most systems, including what little can be considered the government of Nar Shaddaa. Of course, as long as nobody saw it, it was perfectly legal. Like murder.

The cell overlooked the street, exactly where the speeder would pass. It was a dark series of cells beneath the gentle skywalk. No light came forth, and nobody had any reason to suspect anyone up there with a disintegrator. I had my gun trained.

Rakshol had devised this place for an ambush. We had trailed him, and his disappearance into a private booth had been a boon. It gave us all the time in world. As Merat’s speeder would approach, the maintenance droid would burst. Then, I would kill him.

I admired Rakshol’s sense of vengeance. He didn’t actually want Merat to lick his boots, or hold Merat hanging over the street’s edge. He knew a good kill when he saw one: a good kill was cold, quick and without fuss. No sense in putting yourself in danger, even for revenge.

My thoughts broke. I heard footsteps behind me. I turned around. There was a droid. A protocol droid, standing alone. Silver-white light fell from the slits onto his body. It made the generally bright droid look very sombre, very metallic. Very serious.

I continued gazing at the droid over my shoulder, not making a move. He was the droid. “Greetings.” The pre-programmed words sounded so solemn today. “I am a messenger from Tsuka the Hutt. Tsuka the Hutt has a message for you. Would you like me to play it?”

I turned around fully. I made a slight nod. The droid’s voice was replaced by Tsuka’s. Tsuka didn’t trust holographic messages, it seems. I know I wouldn’t.
“Yuado my boy, how are ya? Hunting well? I have a favour to ask of you, which is in fact, not so much a favour as a what you call it: a job, a task, a thing to do, on my line? It’s private. See, I got a private message some time ago. An anonymous fellow put up a bounty for me to send. But it’s private.
Now private means that I’m responsible for controlling who kills who and who earns squat. Heh, on my trail? Now the bounty’s on Rakshol. That’s right, your brother. Now my client, how I can’t name, mind you, wants him dead. Killed dead. Dead in absolution. Or absolutely? Or what? Hmm.

So I wondered. Who do I give this bounty to? I mean, I can’t just go about telling people like ‘Oh look, I have a bounty for collectin’, you getting me? It don’t work like that. So I thought. And I figured, hell, why not give it to you? You’re perfect.

Plus, it’s off the record. Nobody knows. What’s more, I’ll clear out any infractions you’ve got that went under the table. I’ll clear ‘em. Nobody knows about the bounty, nobody ever will.

Now I’m serious, kid. Think about this. You take off that schutta and the bounty’s all yours. I can’t tell you the amount, but it’s a lot. More than you can earn with the craphole of a lizard. Tellin’ ya. This figure is big. You can probably retire for years with that.

And it’s all yours. Yours. Not with Rakshol. It’s with you. Kill him, and it’s yours. Sounds like evolution, except it is. Kill him, it’s yours and you win. You survive. And I’ve thought over this, mind me. I’m not on spice and- hell, heh, I am on spice! So anyways, I know you can do this. I’ve got faith in you, kid. I don’t want to lose the commission on this thing, so don’t disappoint me. Please.”

I turned around. The world looked so changed. Like it had turned upside-down when I wasn’t looking. I could see Rakshol, down below. He was working on a mauve maintenance droid hovering silently in the middle of the road, neglected by the authorities. Rakshol was planting a jamming bomb. It wasn’t 100% effective, but it did have a standard bomb to shake things up physically.

My scope’s sights moved to Rakshol. He was doing his job inconspicuously. I clutched the trigger. His head was in sight. I fired. The bright orange ray shot forth from the disintegrator and struck Rakshol.

Disintegrator rifles are banned. They are called inhumane by some. Too powerful. It is ironic that sentients always strive for better weaponry, but never the best. Nobody wants the best. After all, who wants to kill their enemy?

Rakshol disappeared. Like a ghost disappears, into thin air. Only seconds. He was there, and in the blink of an eye, he’s gone. The disintegrator had been fired. The work had been done. Rakshol was dead.

I turned. The droid made a slight bow. “Master Tsuka will be very pleased.” He left nonchalantly. I looked back. Rakshol wasn’t there. He was gone. Forever. Merat’s speeder passed. I could almost imagine Merat looking up at me. Thanking me. Paying me.

“Well, that’s that. Seven rules. Bounty Hunter’s Creed. You think you’re upto it? Sign in here and it’ll record your name and- there, done. You’re set. You want to me to partner you with- Rakshol- done. Welcome to the Bounty Hunter’s Guild. Now get your butt out of my face.”

I walked away. The rules resonated once more in my head. I was sure I’d never break them. I knew that I will never break them.


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Old 10-16-2008, 09:48 PM   #3
Endorenna
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I liked that a lot. The only problem was that it was very, very hard to follow the story. Chances are, you meant it that way. The descriptions were excellent.


Chapter 12 of A Soul Adrift is out.

Short stories:
T'katlu: On the planet Felucia, a young apprentice of the Dark Side thinks back to the beginning of her training as she lies in wait for her prey...

All the Time: After four years in the Unknown Regions, the Exile returns to the known galaxy to visit an old enemy.

Broken: A master of the Dark Side finds himself about to lose the one thing he cares about--and he will do anything to stop her from endangering herself.
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Old 10-16-2008, 09:58 PM   #4
Inyri
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Firstly, tl;dr.

Secondly, my gawd Sabre, dunno if you did it on purpose but less choppy sentences!

I still love you! <3

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Old 10-17-2008, 07:26 AM   #5
The_Catto
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Nicely written. Very long though haha. Took me a while to get through it all. [Admittedly, that might have been due to the fact I don't have my glasses, and large blocks of writing scare the bejebus out of me ]

Anyways... Another that has got my vote.
Well done Sabre! Always a pleasure!

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Old 10-17-2008, 09:55 AM   #6
Bee Hoon
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I'm not going to read the whole thing and you know what I think! And I think you're evil for even coming up with the concept and I love how you used the creed as the title for every section and I like sentences which run like the wind and you know that brother yes you do!

Inyrikins, Sabre used choppy sentences on purpose to depict the action scenes. He likes it that way



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:56 AM   #7
Sabretooth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bee Hoon View Post
Inyrikins, Sabre used choppy sentences on purpose to depict the action scenes. He likes it that way
Come to think of it, I'm finding it a bit difficult to read the fic myself.


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Old 10-17-2008, 01:36 PM   #8
Rogue Nine
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It was meant to be read Shatner-style, obviously.




have a suggestion for the lf poll? pm me
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Old 10-17-2008, 07:10 PM   #9
Tysyacha
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This was long and weird and funny and exhausting and...unlike any other Javyar's fic!
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Old 10-17-2008, 11:11 PM   #10
Sabretooth
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It was meant to be read Shatner-style, obviously.


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Old 11-06-2008, 06:55 PM   #11
machievelli
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reviewed


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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