Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Las Vegas Nevada
Current Game: Dungeonseige series
[Fic] Divided Bounty
Reputation is rumor, pure and simple. People talk. They speak of what you have done, or are supposed to have done. But is it true?
Looking at Sela, Callum Dorrt was reminded of that old saw. The bounty hunter before him had a reputation; all of them do. Hers had been formed in just three years. She never missed a bounty, always delivered no matter how hard. Relentless. He had to admit she at least dressed the part. Skin tight leathers, blaster low on her hip, vibroblade on her other hip.
But looking at her, he knew it was all jet wash. She looked like a dancing girl; lithe pretty with a face that claimed she didn’t have a thought in that well formed head.
On the other hand Callum knew what he had done, and had all the proofs he needed. He had betrayed men of good faith on two worlds, set up deals for them, and betrayed their causes for money. He had stolen the livelihood from the poor on another world, claimed to help those of another while setting them up to become nothing more than slaves of an Imperial Moff. Just to round out his life he had caused the murder of a Black Sun Vigo, though that had never been proven, and ordered a bounty placed on a woman that had scorned his affections.
At 30 he reveled in the fact that there were five bounties on him, but none were worth the effort to collect. Maybe eight or nine thousand Imperial Credits all told. But Guild rules didn’t allow you to split a bounty. If you hunted someone, you had to deliver him to just one client. That made the maximum you could collect for someone like Dorrt was what 4000? Which is why his guard force here on Tanager was only seven men and his Brisl hound pack. Good enough if someone like Boba Fett wasn’t after you.
So he wasn’t impressed by reputations.
He ran his hands over the case she had delivered. The bounty had been a simple one. One of his employees, another girl, had run with some of his art collection. What he wanted was his art back, and her head on a platter. The box was here, but…
She motioned him away from the case, touching the pore-coded lock. It hissed, opening as the pressure was equalized. She lifted the lid, pulling a layer of packing foam free, and carefully removed what looked like a serving tray from a core world restaurant. She smiled, eyes gleaming as she presented it to him. He looked at it, then ripped the lid off it. Tana’s dead eyes looked up at him. Her head had been removed with surgical precision right at the shoulder line so her neck protruded below.
“As specified in the wording of the bounty.” Sela said softly.
He still wasn’t impressed. He turned to his desk, and pulled out the bag. “Four thousand, as agreed.” She lifted the bag from his hand, tucking it into her bodice.
“A pleasure.” She bowed, and turned. She opened the door, and that was when the stun field blasted her into unconsciousness. Two of his men standing ready outside the door caught her as she fell.
Callum paced over, pulling the money; his money from where she had placed it. “Yes, a pleasure.” He touched the face. Maybe… No, she was worth nothing alive. “Deal with her as you see fit.”
“Can we…” The man’s eyes were eager, but he blanched at the calm face his employer gave him.
“By all means, indulge yourselves.” Dorrt replied. “But she dies before dawn.”
The last of the three suns began to set, and the Brisl hound keeper sighed as he moved down the line of cages. Brisl were native of a world so dangerous that man took one look and decided that dying may be the end of life, it didn’t mean you have to go looking for it.
They were pack hunters with bristling gray and brown striped fur, standing a meter at the shoulder, and moved like lightning. Their jaws were strong enough to crack the thigh bone of a Corellian Megateer, or reduce an armored man’s limbs to paste crushed between flattened sheets of metal. On their homeworld they fed on the Kasalio beasts, twenty metric tons of meat horn clawed feet and bad attitude. But a pack could take that behemoth.
One was a danger, but six were death on 24 legs to anything living that was smaller than a cargo shuttle.
The keeper had not fed them yet. They were only fed in the morning, thirty kilos of rich red meat every day. In fact they ate better than the guards or their master did. Of course if you fed them anything but meat they became… upset. The keeper had replaced an idiot that had tried to skim money by cutting their diet. Which is how he had become part of it.
The hounds looked at him with that cold ‘are you dinner?’ look they had with anything not of their kind. He keyed the sonic shield nervously. They shied back from that. Besides, he was in the walkway, not out where they could just take a quick snack. As the last of the light died, he popped the hatch that led to the grounds. With Brisl a fifteen meter wall with no tree within 20 meters obligatory. Any lower, and they could leap it, and they were excellent climbers. Which is why the inside of that wall was as smooth as man could make it.
The pack leader oozed out like a shadow moving with a light, paws landing silently even on the blowing leaves. She sniffed the air, and the keeper stiffened. She acted like…
The Brisl growled deep in her throat, like an engine’s gears grinding on an uphill grade, and all six of them raced toward the tree line. The keeper keyed his com link. “I think someone is on the grounds.” He reported as the Guard Captain came online.
“Then we’ll find out who when we check their DNA from the droppings.” The Captain replied, dismissing the intruder.
Burt the keeper felt uneasy. Everyone knew Dorrt kept Brisl. Only a fool would- He spun trying to decipher the sound he had just heard from those trees. There was the snarl of an attacking Brisl, then… a whimper of pain? But no sound of blaster or bark of a projectile weapon. Could anyone have taken one of the Brisl that quickly and silently? He shook his head. Nothing living could walk through that hell ground at night and live.
Suddenly there were more snarls. He backed toward the house as yelps of surprised pain followed, whimpering, then… silence. He lifted the com link again, then paused. Something hot was running down his shirt, and he looked at the rich red flood from his neck in surprise. There was a hole in his throat, and another in the back of it. He touched the holes in wonder as he fell to his knees. What kind of thing could… He fell forward, dead before he discovered the answer.
Lasna, report.” The Guard Captain snarled into his com link. The damn keeper was still outside. That meant the perimeter was breached, and until he found out what the hell had happened, they could not seal it. He keyed in the guard room. “Hansa, Brel, Brisl run, now.”
“But we just got the girl ready!” Brel came back plaintively.
“Think with your big head for once, you barve. You want to tell Dorrt getting wet is more important than his life? You’ll be breakfast for the Brisl if that happens. Zip up and move it. And tell those other damn fools to get into position.”
“But there isn’t an alarm!”
“My gut says we should have alarms. Now stop questioning my orders Brel, and move!” He jogged down the hall, turning into the last corridor as the two guards joined him. They weren’t the best men, just the best available on this stinking mudball. The Captain considered again asking his boss to hire some decent security men. Yeah, with what? The guy was so tight with his money you needed a tractor beam to get it away from him!
The door to the outside opened, and the Captain stared at the body. Whatever had done this had gotten past a Brisl hunting pack without an alarm. To hell with the money! If he lived through the night he’d beat the boss over the head with it! The three men moved forward, automatically falling into a triad back to back formation. The Captain knelt. Two holes almost exactly the same size both carotids and jugular slice as neat as you please. “What the hell did that?”
“Selachi dart.” A voice replied, as they frantically turned, the intruder dropped into the center of the formation.
Dorrt snarled as one of his guards burst in. He pushed the woman aside, standing as he threw on the robe. “What means this?”
“Captain Baolart ordered us on alert. The Brisls went straight from the cage into the attack. We can’t get hold of Lasna. Or Baolart and the team with him.” The man wasn’t the sharpest blade in the arsenal, but he was willing and killed without compunction. Dorrt considered how often the Captain had told him they needed better men. But what in the name of the gods could go through a Brisl back whole or even still able to move?
He stared at the naked slave girl in disgust. “Get out of here. Back to your quarters!” The woman grabbed her clothes, running frantically past the guard. There was a yelp from down the hall, then an ominous silence.
“Cal! Danno! It’s on the top floor! Just took out a slave!” The guard stood there, weapon at the ready, com link at his lips. “Damn it you two report!”
Dorrt spun, clawing in his end table. He pulled out the hold out blaster. Then he spun back around. The guard was moving forward slowly. Weapon trained on the door. He flinched, and the projectile gun stuttered, bullets ripping into the walls. Then the man flew forward, something silvery about the size of a man’s index finger punching through his spine and neck. That came from-
Dorrt turned, and a hand caught his. He screamed as that hand was crushed to paste as if caught in a blast door. The blaster squeaked as that same pressure reduced it into shards. He looked, and his jaw dropped.
“Sela?” The woman looked as if she had gone through everything. Teeth and claws had ripped the flesh of one arm. There was a smoking hole through her stomach that had to be from a blaster. Yet her face was serene. She released his hand, and he felt something shoot into his face. He gasped as he collapsed into darkness.
His head felt like it had been in a drum beaten by a madman. Doort tried to stretch, but found he was restrained. He opened his eyes, tearing from the sudden burst of light. Then his jaw dropped again. Sela stood there, slightly bruised. And beside her, the nightmare battle torn Sela also stood.
“Most of the idiots I work for at least consider the rep before they do something stupid.” Sela said. “You set a new record for stepping on your crank.” She dabbed at her lip, where there was a trickle of blood. “Five years as a slave. Ha! I took worse beatings from the orphanage I lived in before that. All in all, Dorrt you were pathetic.
“But I admit you are valuable.”
“How…” He motioned toward the silent damaged Sela.
“Never heard of HRDs? Human Replicant Droids. Droid combat chassis, with cloned flesh over the frame. Hard to recognize, and unless you’re good, even harder to stop.”
“But she looks like you.”
“When I was a slave, my master decided he liked me so much he wanted a pair. So he had my dear Sela Yah made. Not only my twin, but a hidden bodyguard no one would expect. Try 9 million to have two of me. But he fouled up. You see, to pretend to be me, she had to have my memories. He didn’t care if I ended up a drooling lump. After all he didn’t keep me around for conversation. So he had my memory duplicated and dumped in her braincase.”
She walked over, touching the HRD with a loving hand. The droid looked at her, it’s own hand coming up, duplicating the gesture exactly. “When she woke up, she was me, just me with an armored skeleton and hardwired skills at assassination and defense. That night she took care of the master, and freed all of his slaves.
“We ransacked his estate before we left. Every slave had enough to get home and compensation. We took his ship and renamed her Subtlety. But HRDs are hard to maintain. Takes a lot of money to keep them in fighting trim. Upgrades, and a bacta tank for repairs to rthe biological components.” She kissed the HRD gently. “Go get in the tank, love.”
“Will you be okay? Sela Yah asked.
“Yes. I just want to tell our friend what is in store for him.” The HRD nodded, and paced out.
“Yes what will you do?” Dorrt sneered. “There are five bounties, but even if you could collect on all of them it wouldn’t pay for the bacta tank you have!”
“Oh I know I can’t sell you to all five.” Sela replied. “Guild rules are quite clear. But you didn’t remember the codicil did you?” He looked at her confused. “All of the contracts are for you alive. And there are ways around the rule if the customers agree.”
Guri stepped into the office, standing patiently in front of the desk. Prince Xizor, Imperial noble and head of the Black Sun cartel slid the chip he was working on into it’s sleeve flipping it into the out box. “Is there a reason for this?”
“A bounty hunter named Sela Astirilo wishes to speak with you. She has already been checked for weapons. But she asked me to show this to you before she came in.” Guri handed him a chip. He looked at it curious then slid it into a reader. He watched for several moments, then leaned back, fingers steepled.
“Send her in.”
Sela walked in, bowing low to the crime lord. “You have seen the record, my lord?”
“Yes. Once I find this Callum Dorrt, he is dead. No one kills one of my men.”
She held up a second chip. “My lord, if I may? I think he is more valuable alive.” She explained. The Faleen stared at her for a long moment, then slowly he smiled. “I like it.”
Five people or groups had placed bounties. It took a while to contact them all, but when Sela had, she gave them all the same offer she had made to Xizor. All agreed, because while not exactly within the rule of what the Bounty Hunter Guild thought, it was really all they had wanted.
Between them, Sela left with almost sixty thousand credits. It would have been more if she had not refused the bounty from the parents. She would not leave them destitute.
Sela Yah piloted with her usual skill. Sela sat beside her. “Well that gives us what seven months we don’t have to work?”
“Six months, four days eleven hours at current expenditure levels.” Sela Yah replied.
“Then we have enough for some fun.”
“Five months perhaps eight days then.” Sela Yah replied. “After all you have a very expensive idea of fun.”
“Hey, I had to think of a way to make that idiot not only pay for what he’d done. But pay off as well.”
The newly promoted Vigo enter Prince Xizor’s office. The Faleen looked up, then stood. “Welcome Jakka. I am picking your new territory right now, but I wanted to show you something. A glimpse into what I will do to betrayers.” He motioned toward a door to the side, and opened the door.
Jakka stared in horror. There was a man in there, or at least part of one. All for limbs had been cut off leaving stumps less than 200 millimeters long. The head lolled back, and the man tried to scream, but without a tongue, there was no sound.
“A present from a rather remarkable and vicious bounty hunter. There were already five bounties on him when he came to my attention. Seems he killed one of my Vigos a few years ago. I was ready to merely torture him to death, but she showed me a better way. He walked on two deals, stole and betrayed faiths, and his words sent a girl to her death.” Xizor smiled slowly. “But everyone can only be satisfied when they get what they want, and with my help, she was able to offer them that.
“After all, a lot of people wanted a piece of him. And they got it.”