All was quiet in the Sernaya sector. Jeremiah “Grim” Mordunaza sat silently in the cockpit of the Blood Wraith, listening to the steady hum of the massive reactor that powered his mobile weapons platform. The Blood Wraith was a VulcanAire T-177P Heavy Assault Ship. An antique in most people's eyes, but Grim wouldn’t trade her for anything else in the galaxy. The Wraith might have been slow and expensive to patch up, but she’d been faithful to Grim so far.
Besides, there wasn’t much that could match a T-177P in firepower outside of capital class ships, and with that Draxius class 5 cloaking system he had installed over a decade ago, he didn’t need speed to get away. Grim was lost in thought as he drifted slowly around the perimeter of Sernian space.
For how much empty blackness there was out here, most of the people moving through it sure saw a lot of grey. He grimaced as he ran a hand through his hair. “Probably shouldn’t think so much about grey,” he mumbled to himself.
Despite the two habitable planets and fair amount of raw materials available, not much moved in and out of the small backwater military state; the nearest public warp gate was nearly a week away under full impulse in a fast ship and the system itself was far from the sphere of influence of any major political players in the intergalactic arena.
Grim had been floating around this lonely expanse of stars for a little over 10 years now after a mission went bad in a big way and he needed to vanish
“Damnit all Bell!” He burst out suddenly, “I’ve been bored out my skull these past couple of years, I know I came here to hide, but this is getting ridiculous!”
The Wraith’s onboard computer, Bell, gave a low descending hum in reply; she wasn’t much of a talker. “The only Coalition ship in the last half a year was a bunch of Trog that got themselves lost trying to take a shortcut, I’m tired of playing babysitter to stupid kids, smugglers, and drunk idiots with no sense of direction.” Grim said with a sigh as he pushed himself out of his chair and walked over to the fridge to grab himself a beer. Bell replied with a small series of chirps
“It’s not your fault Bell. It’s just that I’m going stir crazy from nothing to do, and my wallet’s starting to get a bit too light for my likings.”
Flopping back into his chair, Grim cracked open his beer and leaned back, draining it in a single pull and finishing with a satisfied “Aaaaaahhhhhh!” before slamming the empty can back down on the control panel, which was met by an admonishing beep from Bell.
Grim just flashed a huge grin and gave a hearty laugh. “Just what the doctor ordered!”
His laughter was cut short by the ships long range proximity alarm, as he quickly activated his cloaking system and flipped on his sensor array. It turned out to be a rather large and well-armed Trog scout ship, moving under low impulse with only a level 1 cloaking device. “They almost make it too easy,” he said with a smile. “Charge up the non-recoils Bell, about 40% should do. Don’t wanna blow the patch off those old cooling pipes, Strum would have my head for that.”
As he waited for the non-recoils to charge up, he sighed when the ship design didn’t come up in Bell’s database. “New model eh?” he mumbled to himself while scratching at the scruffy four day beard that had taken over the lower half of his face. Reaching into his memories, he targeted the most likely location for a reactor core in the Trog ship.
As a final insult he hailed the Trog ship before firing. As the Trog captains face, a face only a mother Trog could love, flashed onto the screen, Grim gave him a warm smile and little wave saying “Hey there beautiful, sorry about your new toy, buh-bye now,” before flipping up the cover on the fire switch for the NR’s and giving it a little flick.
Even at a 40% charge the power draw was still enough to temporarily drop the Wraith out of cloak and cause several coolant temp warning lights to briefly flare to life. The twin 5 foot diameter beams of energy tore through the Trog ship like a hammer through wet paper, completely vaporizing it as they blasted through the ships warp reactor.
As Grim was opening a second beer he’d just grabbed from the fridge to celebrate, a rather angry Sernian commander appeared on the com screen.
“How many times do I have to warn you about using those bloody things inside Sernian space Elstadt!” The red-faced young commander shouted at him.
“Not to use them unless it was an emergency, sir.” Grim replied with a small smile, waiting till the commander was about to open his mouth to speak again before going on, “and I believe a Trog heavy scout of unknown design entering Sernian space to qualify as an emergency, commander.”
“Well, why wasn’t I informed of this threat!” The commander bellowed, traces of crimson starting to creep into his face. “Well,” Grim replied casually, “I figured it was prudent to eliminate the threat immediately, before it had a chance to call in friends or get into firing range of the colonies, sir.”
“Well…that’s...good job…” the commander spluttered in a pained voice, a vein now pulsing in his neck, going more red in the face by the second while Grims smile grew incrementally larger.
“Now wipe that damned Trungar-kissing grin off you face and stop being such a damn showoff!!” The red-faced commander roared before slamming down the com on the other side. As the com screen winked out Grim threw back his head and roared with laughter before polishing off his beer, cranking up his music, and setting a course back to Sernaya colony station SSC-023 to meet up with his mechanic Strum and see if the Varia spec triple-walled cooling system he’d ordered for the Wraiths non-recoils had arrived yet.
As Grim made his way back into the docks at Sernaya Offworld Colony SSC-023, he couldn’t help but think what a sorry state this sector was in. Most of the ships in the crowded service station were shining examples of why routine maintenance was important, or more likely, why not blowing all your repair money at the many casinos in the asteroid district was important. “Kids these days don’t know how to appreciate what they have,” he muttered as he backed the Wraith into a rather worse for wear, yet immaculately clean looking and well organized repair dock. Bell gave a low hum in agreement.
As Grim stepped out of the Wraith he had to lean back quickly as a rather large and heavy wrench came spinning towards him. “Strum! Just the Trink I wanted to see!” he exclaimed in an overly enthusiastic voice. “Damn bloody fool,” the old Trink growled as he stumped over to pick up his wrench which he brandished under Grims nose before continuing to speak. “Y’know durn well those cooling pipes are mostly patch, if one’o them were to rupture, it woulda purged your reactor right onto your durn fool head! I warned ya not to fire those bloody great guns o’ yours inliss it were an emergency. Now explain, or ya won’t be getting these new parts o’yours.”
Strum finished with his arms folded across his broad chest and his wrench protruding threateningly from one hand.
“Trog heavy scout, new model I’m not familiar with, running cloaked under low impulse and doing a sensor sweep.” Grim replied in an even tone
“Durn filthy fools, what’re they doin poking their dirty noses around here for, I dun like it, no sir.” Strum muttered darkly as he spat into a corner.
“They’re either looking for something or lost, the Trog on a ship that size probably only have a dozen functioning brain cells between them.” Grim said as he turned back towards the Wraith.
“Regardless, if they send anything heavier than a scout ship I’m going to need the Wraith at full capacity.”
Strum merely grunted before grabbing Grims’ shirt and pulling him down to eye level, gripping him firmly by the shoulder and staring him hard in the eye, quite a feat considering the nearly 3 foot height difference between the two of them. “Now boy, don’t go running off and doin something, trog-brained foolish on me now, I know yer past with the Coalition, I just dun wanna see you end up dead, yeh ain’t as young as you used to be.”
Grim gave a huge grin as a reply, “I’m still a few hundred years younger than your crusty old ass!” as he broke Strums grasp and ran off towards his favorite local bar as Strums angry shouts echoed behind him. “BAH! Yeh better have me durn money this time yeh no good freeloader!”
“You know I’m good for it Strum, and if things get dangerous I can always trust my instincts, they’ve kept me alive this long haven’t they old friend?” Grim called out just before disappearing around a corner.
“A’hm charging yeh to pull that dent out too! Shoulda been in your head, not your ship!”
Grim was still in a good mood as he pulled up a stool at his favorite bar and asked the barkeep if he’d heard of any promising missions lately. “Gotta keep that floating money pit of yours in the air eh?” They both had a good laugh at this before the bartender leaned across the bar to Grim and smiled, “Actually, a VERY interesting mission just popped up on the bounty-head network this morning, it’s an Alliance contracted salvage mission.”
“The Wraith isn’t a bloody tow truck Jur, especially for some drunk Alliance captain with fresh bars on his shoulder that got himself lost.” Grim replied, face in his hands, massaging his temples. Jur gave a small chuckle and leaned in closer to grim to whisper, “That wouldn’t be very interesting now would it, I said this was an interesting bounty, didn’t I?” Grim lowered his right hand to the bar, resting his chin on his left and waited for Jur to continue, “The interesting part is that the salvage contract is for a ship with a blacked out manifest, and the payout is 15 million GC.” Grim let out a low whistle at this. 15 mil would pay back everything he owed Strum AND fully restock the wraith with essential supplies, most of which would, naturally, be alcoholic in nature.
“I’m assuming you have the data on this mission if you’re telling me about it?” Grim said as he slid a credstick across the bar. “Of course.” Jur said with a smile as he slid a datapad to Grim and pocketed the credstick.
Alliance Transport Ship ACS Jeffersonion, en route to Balthiel Offworld Colony AMR-092 Odis escorted by Alliance Corvettes AMS Earnest and AMS Ul’Mas. “Balthiel…” Grim mouthed silently as a smile slowly spread across his face, “This really is my lucky day, I’d bet everything I own it’s that mud-brained bastard Admiral Bryce behind this bounty, I’ll grab the goods, collect the reward, and run off with both.” Grim said as he walked out of the bar with a huge smile on his face, as he was leaving he turned and whistled before throwing another credstick to Jur, who’s single massive eye was somehow even wider than usual as grim turned and waved. He even did a little jump and a heel click as he made his way through the door.
- Public Dock Number 34D, Serneya Offworld Colony SSC-023
Tysell, Jy’rhett, and Syvis stepped out of their Gromera Slipstream S6A, a small, lightly armed transport ship that could comfortably seat 12 plus a pilot and co-pilot.
The trio were Fronge, a reptilian race that favored walking upright and made up a good portion of the Coalitions naval and ground forces. Cleaner, faster, and overwhelmingly more intelligent than the Trog that made up the bulk of the Coalition cannon fodder.
These particular Fronge, however, were Coalition deserters turned bounty hunters
The three had been together since the breeding pools and had grown disenfranchised with the Coalition commands general disregard for the safety and continued existence of their fellow infantry. After draining their bank accounts onto unregistered cred sticks and acquiring new ID’s, they faked their own deaths, bought a ship, and had turned to bounty hunting. An endeavour which had been fairly lucrative so far.
Their current bounty, however, had been the most challenging to date by a long shot, and also the most rewarding if it panned out. Grim Mordunaza, Fallen Prince of the Black Moon, the Devil in the dark that citizens of the Coalition used to scare people into line.
The official coalition bounty for this man was staggering, not to mention the mountain of personal bounties posted by various Coalition officers. Unfortunately, going back to collect any of those would likely be a death sentence for the trio as well, still, they had come across an old Alliance bounty for 30 million GC if he could be taken alive.
For a trio of former Fronge infantrymen, this would set them up to live comfortably for quite awhile if they didn’t make any overly extravagant purchases.
Their current lead, which had taken them nearly 5 years to track down and verify, was for a man named Elstadt Grimes who closely matched the description of Grim. They suspected this was a more recent alias of his.
The man was a registered bounty hunter in the Independant Military State of Sernaya, a self-important collection of rocks and crumbling space stations in the back end of nowhere. A monumentally irritating trip if this lead turned out to be a bust
The trio donned their matching tan trench coats and low, wide-brimmed tan hats. Tysell and Syvis were both packing a pair of Fronge military issue SSK energy pistols under their coats. Jy’rhett had grabbed a Grollis GC60-EE; a sort of shotgun that emits a strong burst of electrical energy capable of shorting out electronics and stunning nearly any creature caught in it’s blast.
Tounges flicking in and out in anticipation, the three made their way off their ship towards a local bounty hunters bar, The All seeing Eye, to try and gather more info on their marks activity in this sector.
- Leaving bounty bar, The All seeing Eye, Sernaya off world colony SSC-023
“Now, all I have to do is find whatever is left of this hulk, hack the ship's computer to figure out what those tight asses in Alliance accounting are willing to pay 15 mil for, and let the creds roll in.” Grim thought to himself as he quickly made his way back to Strums repair bay. As he rounded the corner he bumped into a thin lizard-like creature in a long tan trench coat that narrowed its eyes to slits and hissed. “You outworlderssss have no mannerssss,” its tail lashing back and forth angrily.
One of the two other similarly dressed Fronge behind it suddenly leaned forward, eyes wide, staring at a tablet in its hand and hissed, “It’ssss him Tysssel, the Fallen Princsssse!”
Grim’s mind slammed into overdrive hearing this, his mood from a moment ago shattered. Nobody in this sector should know that name, he’d even repainted the Wraith in a standard VulcanAire Defense Systems livery of flat black and silver before coming here.
Not waiting to find out what a handful of Fronge that knew one of his old aliases were doing on SSC-023, he slammed his palm into the lower jaw of the one he’d bumped into, causing it to bite off the tip of the tongue that had been flitting in and out of its mouth a second ago and stagger backwards into the one with the tablet, sending them both to the floor.
Seeing the one in the back start to reach for something in its coat, Grim grabbed the Fronge by the throat, staring it in the eyes “Ah ah ah, not tonight skinny,” he said with a feral grin before tossing it backwards into the wall, hard.
He dropped in a heap as he hit the wall, not wasting time, Grim turned and kicked the first Fronge in the head before pulling a nearly 8 inch combat knife from a hidden pocket, holding it steady a hair's width from the now terrified Fronges left eye. It’s scales slowly shifting from a light tan to a deep blueish grey in fear.
“Coalition or private sector?” Grim said with a smile. “P..p..p..private ssssector.” the terrified Fronge stammered out. “Good, you’ve just extended your life by a considerable margin, now follow me,” with this Grim traced the knife gently up the side of its face “and if you even THINK about reaching for a weapon or calling in more friends, I’ll make myself a new pair of gloves and wake up one of these two sleeping idiots.” he said with he said pointing the knife over his shoulder before spinning it in his fingers and deftly sliding it back into whatever pocket he had it secreted away in under his coat.
The conscious Fronge swallowed as Grim easily lifted both his knocked out companions by their collars with his right hand and began dragging them down the hall. “Pick up the pace, you damned walking seat cover,” Grim growled over his shoulder which prompted his new “friend” to scramble to recover his tablet and hurry down the hallway after the man.
Grim casually tossed the two unconscious Fronge into the waiting elevator before waving the third to enter. As the doors slid closed he held out his hand towards the shaking Fronge saying “Weapons,” in a flat voice.
Syvis slowly handed the two pistols to the man towering over him in the elevator. As the man examined the small tan weapons Syvis mumbled, “Biometric locks,” and Grim grunted before sliding both pistols into his waistband. “Smart,” he replied as he hit the button to take them down to the residential level one of his safe houses were located on.
“So,” Grim said as the elevator started to descend “Where did you pick up this bounty, and how long have you been chasing it?” Syvis twitched a bit as Grim spoke to him. “Bristeles, on world, flagged as Alliancsssse contract. We’ve been chasssing ssssssmoke for five yearss now.”
Grim relaxed a bit when he heard Alliance contract. “The fact that it’s an Alliance contract and not Coalition just extended your life again my scaly friend,” he finished with a small grin. “How long ago was this bounty posted?” Syvis figured it would be easier to simply hand the man his tablet. Even if his two friends woke up, he had no doubt they wouldn’t be leaving the elevator alive if they tried to fight. Switching the biometric locks to public mode he handed it over with a sigh. “All of the information issss on sssscreen, the initial posssting was almost ssseventeen yearss ago.”
Grim took the tablet and gave a low whistle at the bounty “30 mil alive and 10 for proof of death, no surprise you stuck with this for five years.” He gave a disgusted grunt as he continued reading. “Looks like that bastard General Graithe survived our last little discussion and went right back to his old ways, it looks like I’ll need to go have another talk with the good general in the near future.”
Despite coming after him for a bounty, his instincts weren’t telling him anything bad about these three. Young, foolish, and greedy certainly, but people could grow out of that. “Got a name, scaley?” he asked, dipping his head towards Syvis, “And do you have any friends ready to kick my door down if they don’t hear from you I should be worried about on the station?”
The young Fronge shook his head, “Sssyvisss, and no, it’sss always been jusst usss three.”
“OK, good, and now for the final and most important question.” Grim replied, leaning forward and looming over Syvis. “Seeing as these pistols you handed me are Coalition issued SSK’s, and the biometric lockouts seem to be untampered, this leads me to one of four conclusions.” Grim put up one finger on his right hand. “One, you have a VERY brave arms dealer smuggling unregistered weapons out of Gromius. In which case I sincerely hope he stays in business.” A second finger came up, “Two, you’re actually Coalition Intelligence. In which case I’ll be tying your tails together and stuffing you down an incinerator shoot after requisitioning your all of your valuables.”
Syvis began to shake at malice in the grin that spread across Grims face as he said this before a third finger popped up. “Three, you were left behind on a mission and are trying to make living out here away from the Coalition, in which case I commend your efforts, but suggest you wipe any data relating to this case and go after another bounty if you wish to remain among the living.” Syvis swallowed as the fourth finger came up, the last two options were less than favorable.
“Four,” Grim said, a different kind of smile starting to spread on his face, “You left the Coalition of your own volition, and, despite your latest mistake in attempting to track me down, have proven your intelligence and resourcefulness. In which case, we may be on the same side of this fight, and I would like to talk further.” As the elevator came to stop a stop, Grim held the door close button before turning back to Syvis.
“So, which door are you going out of, Syvis? For your sake, let’s hope there’s something more than the infinite expanse of space on the other side,” he asked with a smile. Syvis hesitated, playing out different scenarios in head, trying to figure out which would be the least painful.
Honesty, he concluded, appeared to have the best chance at giving him, at the very least, a quick death. He gave a resigned hiss before speaking “304th inner-world infantry sssuply chain. My brothersss and I had a...well, sssseveral, dissagreementss with the upper management.”
Syvis shook his head, gathering his courage, “We faked our own deathsss after a “convenient sssystems failure” on the ship we were delivering to the tactical officccers quartersss on Geloth sstation SG-1027T. We’re no better than ssslaves to the higher upsss, and unless you’re willing to sstep over the bodiess of your broodmates, you’ll never reach the top.” He spit into the corner of the elevator at this before going on. “I couldn’t continue to sssuport sssssuch honorlesss scum, kill me if you mussst, but I will die free and proud!” Syvis finished, raising his head and puffing out his throat
As Grim let go of the button holding the doors closed, Syvis was surprised as the large man, who just moments earlier had been calmly discussing his demise, laughed suddenly and slapped him on the back hard enough to knock him out of the elevator and into the hall.
“I’ve got nearly half a century's worth of ‘Disagreements with Coalition upper management’ myself,” Grim barked, trying to bring his laughter under control
“You and me are on the same side of this war kid, and for the pleasure of your story, I’ll help you get some of that young dumb and greedy out of your system,” he finished with a smile as he lifted Tysell and Jy’rhett, much more gently this time, before walking five doors down from the elevator and punching in a complex series of numbers into a keypad. As the door slammed open into the wall he waved Syvis into the room with his free hand.
After Grim set his brothers down on one of the couches in the front room, he vanished into a doorway at the back leading farther into the apartment. Syvis was looking around the rather sparsely appointed room and nearly jumped to the ceiling as the door slammed shut behind him.
“Sorry about that.” Grim called out as he came back from the kitchen holding two cans of beer. After handing one to syvis and sitting on the other couch in the room. He set his feet on the cheap metal table between them before continuing, “Damned actuator sticks after I had the armored door installed.”
Syvis cracked open his beer and gave it a cautious sniff before Grim laughed and chugged his down. “It’s the cheap shit for sure, but it’s not poisonous, although some beer snobs would argue otherwise,” he finished with a wink.
Syvis narrowed his eyes before taking a small swig of the beer, ‘Definitely better than the cheap shit on Gromius’ he thought to himself
Shaking his head with a rattling hiss of frustration Syvis spoke slowly “We’ve been hunting you for the better part of five yearsss, and now that I’ve met you, you’re an even larger myssstery.” Taking another sip of the beer he continued, “First you knock my brothers unconcioussss, then you threaten to make usssss into sssseat coversss, ssstuff usss into a garbage shoot, or kick us out an airlock.” Another sip before gesturing to the room they were now sitting in, “and follow thisss up by inviting me to your home and handing me a beer.”
Finishing the beer and setting the now empty can on the table he shrugged and held up his hands “While I much prefer thisss to being ssstuffed out an airlock, you’re an enigma I can’t underssstand right now.”
Grim snorted at the last airlock comment before leaning forward and taking a more serious tone.
“You stood up for yourself, and more importantly, you stood up for your family and what you believe in, under penalty of death no less.” Grim sighed, “This shows a sense of honor and strength of spirit sorely lacking in most of your people. On top of that, you had the intellect to track me here to the ass end of nowhere under an unknown alias in an unmarked ship. Lastly,” he said with a smile, “you took the fight back to the Coalition, even if it was just a single cargo shuttle and a few guards.”
With this Grim extended his hand across the table, “So welcome to the good fight Syvis, it’s mostly a thankless shithole job, but it has its moments.”
Syvis gave a short hissing laugh as he took Grims hand, “What about the bounty we were chassssing, you aren’t worried about usss turning you in when my brothersss wake up?” he said while cocking his head to the side and blinking.
“Still plenty of airlocks on the station.” Grim replied with a shrug before opening another beer, they both had a good laugh at this
“Oh, I think we can still find a way to cash in on that 30 mil.” Grim replied with a twinkle in his eyes, “And I don’t hold it against you for taking it either. Knowing what you grunts get paid, that kind of payout is like hitting the galactic lotto.”
Grim grabbed Syvis’ tablet again and punched in a series of numbers “That’s a temporary code to get in the door here. I’ve also uploaded an current station map to your tablet. Medical is on level 36, wing C. The two sleeping beauties next to you are going to appreciate that info when they wake up,” he finished with a smile.
“I’m going to check in with my mechanic before heading back home, I’m working a pretty lucrative bounty myself right now.” He finished with a wink.
As Grim turned to leave Syvis called out, puzzled, “Isn’t this your apartment?”
“One of many here in Sernaya, one of the less glamorous rewards for trying to stamp out corruption is a lot of folks trying to blow holes in you,” Grim finished with a chuckle and a wave as he turned and headed back towards the elevator.
Chapter 2: Is it getting dark in here?
- Alliance Outer World Advanced R&D Laboratory, deep underground Balthiels third moon, Omersis.
Admiral Bryce slammed his fists down on the table as he ripped into research lead Chenming.
“What do you mean you posted a FIFTEEN MILLION CREDIT BOUNTY FOR THE JEFFERSONIAN!” jowls quivering in rage as the scientist seated across the table shrunk back in fear. “S-s-s-s-sir, the cargo list has been blacked out, whoever recovers the ship will have now idea w-w-w-what’s actually in that container.” Chenming stammered out
Bryce halted his pacing and turned to glare daggers at Chenming. “Blacking out the cargo list is like dangling a big juicy steak in front of those mercs and bounty hunters, you’re as good as telling these scum there’s something worth stealing on that ship!” with this Bryce spun on his heel and resumed pacing.
“E-e-even if they hacked t-t-the ship's computer, crate 4374 is registered as hazardous biomedical waste. T-t-the container itself was designed to survive a high-yield nuclear blast and is sealed with a 256 digit encryption lock, I doubt common mercenaries would be able to get through it.” As Chenming finished speaking, Bryce stopped to rub his temples, how does one get to be this smart and somehow this dumb at the same time.
“Chenming, could your team here crack the encryption on that lock?” Bryce asked calmly. Chenming puffed up at this question of his teams abilities, nearly toppling his chair as he bolted up. “Of course we could crack that lock, we’re the most advanced propulsion and weapons laboratory in the known galaxies!”
Bryce just smiled and spoke softly, “And you don’t think a similar Coalition lab would be able to do the same.”
Chenming went pale at this and dropped into the thankfully still upright chair. “I...didn’t think about that sir.”
“That’s why it’s my job to think about these things, try not to jump the chain next time, if the crate was scooped up by pirates we can recover it. If it falls into Coalition hands, well, I don’t think I need to explain how bad that would be.” Bryce leaned in close to the ashen Chenming as he delivered the last line before straightening up and walking out the heavy door leading into this small conference room.
As Bryce left the conference room he turned to his second who’d been standing outside the door. “Cut research lead Chenming’s outside access and start looking into a replacement, I feel our bumbling scientist is going to experience an accident in the near future.” He said flatly without turning.
Intelligence Officer Randall Joubert smiled darkly before he replied “Right away sir.”
“Oh, do try and make sure this accident doesn’t do too much damage to the facility, cleaning up blood is much cheaper and easier than replacing most of this equipment,” Bryce finished with a chuckle. “I’m afraid getting accounting to approve a fifteen million credit bounty is going to be the soon to be late doctor Chenming’s greatest and final achievement.”
Bryce gave a small exasperated sigh before going on, “This project has been going on for nearly a century and I’ll not have some ignorant bookworm lose a lifetime of work because he decided to hire some mercenary scum to fix his fuck up.”
“Of course sir.” Randall finished, still grinning. My how he loved arranging these little accidents.
“Should we send our own recovery squad after the Jeffersonian as well sir, maybe the Schattenbilder?”
Admiral Bryce smiled at this, “Have them stake out the area and keep an eye on the scum fighting over the mess, once enough of the trash has taken itself out have them kill whatever’s left and grab the package.”
Randall saluted and started pulling up his contacts on a special tablet as the admiral continued out of the station.
- Sernaya Offworld Colony SSC-023, private storage and repair bay DL-014
As Grim entered Strum’s repair bay, the cloying scent of used coolant assaulted his nose.
Every maintenance hatch on the Wraith was wide open and a growing pile of pipes and scrap was stacked on the floor next to his ship.
Stepping up to the Wraith, Grim banged his right hand hard against the hull twice, which brought forth a stream of curses in at least four languages he could understand. A few moments later, a very angry looking Strum appeared in one of the upper maintenance hatches just below the Non-Recoil cannons that nearly covered the entire top of the ship.
“Boy,” Strum growled, waving his plasma cutter menacingly. “Yeh do tha’ agin and ah’ll change the locks on tha bay doors, she’ll be done when she’s done! A complete cooling system overhaul takes time, moreso when ah’m trying to shove tweneh pounds o’ pipe into the ten pound turd yeh’ve cursed me with here.”
“Just dropping by to inform that I have a new bounty to get to, a salvage operation out of Balthiel with a 15 mil payout.” Grim replied casually
The old Trink narrowed his eyes at Grim before responding. “Balthiel yeh say? 15 mil, Alliance contract?” Grim nodded
Strum sighed, “Toss me those stimpacks from tha fridge in the corner, it’s gonna be a long night but I’ll have her up by midday tomorreh. Your repair bill just doubled if whatever those Alliance ghosts at Balthiel lost turns out teh be junk.”
“My dear old friend, we both know those Alliance bean counters assholes are so tight you could feed them coal for breakfast and they’d be shitting diamonds by lunch. If someone got them to sign off on a 15 million GC bounty it has to be worth twenty times that at least.” Grim replied with a smile. Strum gave a gruff chuckle, “Aye, tha’s what I was counting on boy.” before he vanished back into the hatch. “Now leave me to mah work so I can get this turd out o’ mah garage and get paid boy!” His muffled voice bounced out to Grim as he exited the garage.
- Sernaya Offworld Colony SSC-023, Grim’s personal apartment, sixteen hours after leaving Strum’s repair bay.
Grim was reviewing the information on his latest salvage contract and let out a heavy sigh as he came across the last known coordinates for the ship he was looking for.
“Of course the damned thing was gonna be in Sebastian’s Cross, bloody haunted minefield makes my arm itch.” He subconsciously reached up to scratch his right arm as he finished.
“Nothing I can do about it, though I’d rather not have anything to do with a debris field even Findj’in scrappers avoid.”
Sebastian’s Cross is the site of the former Alliance Defense Station Sebastian; a now uninhabited expanse of space along the Alliance/Coalition border that was the stage for the Battle of Sebastian. A massive space battle nearly 200 years ago that pushed the front lines of both sides back nearly half the length of a solar system. The planet sized debris field from the war is still floating in icy silence as a monument to the devastation wrought so many decades ago.
Any ship trying to navigate the field has been plagued by odd sensor readings and mysterious systems failures. Most attempts to salvage the old military wrecks left in the Cross have ended in failure, more often than not adding yet another wreck to dark monument of war and death
While the salvage attempts have largely stopped as technology pushes further and further ahead of what was lost in the battle of Sebastian. Smugglers, slavers, and other groups trying to move under the proverbial radar often still push their luck traversing the Cross.
The more he thought about having to navigate the Cross again, the more his arm started to itch. Anyone who’d worked with grim in the last 36 years knew that when that itch flared up, shit was going to hit the fan
Another two hours passed before Strum finally called Grim to tell him the repairs were complete and the Wraith was ready to go. Lost in thought again as he left his apartment and headed towards Strum’s repair bay, Grim finally stopped in the middle of the hall with a sigh as he pulled out his handheld.
He’d been debating on calling his newfound friends all day, even doing a bit of research on their ship and whatever they’d done since they acquired their current ID’s
To Grim’s pleasant surprise they seemed to have been trying to make an honest living as bounty hunters. The small commercial runabout they’d picked up would smoke the Wraith in a drag race, but it wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight. Seeing as how he was going to be starting a few days late, Grim was certain the entire border worlds’ rogues gallery was going to be fighting for this prize by the time he got there. Not flying solo for once would be nice.
Before he made it to Strum’s dock he pulled up Syvis’ contact info and made a video call.
Back in the apartment they’d been given to use. Syvis was surprised when his tablet started to buzz and Grim’s name had been added to his contacts list.
He was greeted with a large smile as he hit the accept call button, “Syvis my new friend! How is the apartment, and how are your brothers feeling this morning?” Grim exclaimed in a cheery voice as the Fronge’s tan face came into view.
“Not assss comfortable as the ship, but the food replicator isss much better, and Jy’rhett appreciates the beer.” With that Syvis quickly glanced over his shoulder, “The othersss had a few minor bruises that are mossstly healed now, though Tysssel isss a bit upsssset at having to regrow the end of hiss tongue.” Syvis finished with a laugh
“I’m glad ssssomeone findsss it amusing.” Tysell hissed from offscreen.
“Sorry about that boys, just trying to keep this old carcass alive,” Grim replied. “Anyway, the reason I’m calling you this fine afternoon was to request your assistance on a bounty. Seeing as you ARE bounty hunters, and I sort of put a halt on collecting the 30 mil on my own head, I felt this would be a good way to make up for the beating I gave you yesterday.” He finished with an award winning smile.
Syvis turned to his brothers. Jy’rhett simply nodded in agreement. Tysell let out a hissing sigh. “If he wanted usss dead, we’d be dead already, we came here to make money sssso let’s do it.”
“We’re on board.” Sysvis replied. “Excellent! I’m sending you the bounty information now, meet me in private storage and repair bay DL-014 as soon as possible. I’ve sent directions along with the bounty info” Grim finished before ending the call and continued walking towards Strums repair bay. As the brothers started to pack up their gear Tysell let out a hiss of resignation, “Sssso, after five yearsss, we’re jusst going to call that 30 mil bounty a dead end?”
Jy’rhett spoke up for the first time that day, “No Tysssell, thisss is another fresh ssstart, not a dead end.” Tysell, for the first time in years, started laughing.