Authors: Joseph Anderson
Hunter – Redemption
The Bounty Hunter – Redemption
2012 by Joseph Anderson
Also by Joseph Anderson:
Bounty Hunter Series
Hunter stories are a series of novellas. Each story is intended to be
self-contained, like an episode of a television series. Although some names and
references are made to prior events, each story can be enjoyed on its own.
If, however, you prefer to read things
in order, the series begins with
The Bounty Hunter’s
Thank you for
your time and I hope you enjoy the story.
Pond was wanted for the murder of people she had never killed. She was a slave
trader and an efficient, greedy one at that. In the eyes of the law, the people
she had taken were as good as dead and she was their executioner. Her greed, at
times a source of strength and wealth, had been her undoing. She had taken too
many people from one planet. Enough to be noticed, and enough that they banded
together to purchase an executioner of their own.
was a bounty hunter. When he strode into the bar, most didn’t look twice. His
battle aegis, a full body armored suit, covered his face and did not appear out
of the ordinary on space stations. Humanoid aliens were common enough and many
had different needs. Sealed suits were necessary when the wrong kind of
chemicals filled the air.
set Burke’s suit apart was the grade and quality of it. It was one of the most
expensive pieces of armor in the galaxy, and he was among the few that owned
one. The aegis could resist most small arms and explosions, but still blended
in among the dozens of other suits found on a station at any given time. It was
only when Burke drew his weapon that Pond’s bodyguards were alerted by his
the suit’s AI and verbal interface, lit up the suit’s visor with hostile
targets around the bar. The men and women that were drawing weapons were distinguished
from the other unarmed patrons. Burke raised his gun at the two guards on
either side of Pond and watched as the reticules Cass had painted on them
turned from green to red, the same color as their blood on the wall behind
rest of the guards opened fire. Pond stayed grinning in her chair, confident
and certain that she was safe. The torrent of bullets slapped against Burke’s
armor. They bounced harmlessly away, most shattering on contact with the
hardened surface of the suit. His movements were only slowed by the barrage of
attacks: he moved his gun slowly from target to target around the room.
always hate this part,” he said. “I feel like their shots are going to pierce
the armor at any second.”
don’t have the right rounds for that,” Cass responded. “Even then we’d have a
few seconds before they could do damage. The one to your right is throwing
grenade bounced along the floor and came to a rest at Burke’s feet. He stopped
and looked down at it. Even some of the other bodyguards stopped, boggling at
whoever had thrown it.
he?” Cass began. “Did he really just throw a grenade on a
Burke said, smacking his lips.
gave it a firm kick back in the thrower’s direction. It slammed into him and
exploded, cracking open the wall of the bar and exposing the whole section of
the station to space. The air rushed out during the few seconds before the
emergency measures could respond. The thrower was sucked out along with a few
tables and chairs. Cass magnetized the suit’s boots to the floor while everyone
around him toppled over. The station’s automated response kicked in before
anyone else was funneled out, clamping down external shutters and sealing the
watched as the guards got to their feet. Only four of them were left. Two of
them threw their guns to the ground and put up their hands. The other two
resumed firing. He aimed his shots at their extremities, giving them a reason
to give up with their cohorts. Eva Pond was just getting to her feet after
falling over. She straightened her hair and beared her teeth at him.
of them behind us has changed his mind,” Cass said. “He’s crawling. Slowly. I
can get you a shot.”
visor’s screen split in half as it began to display the feed from Burke’s
handgun. He extended his right arm behind him, as casually as if he was
stretching it. The gun’s display showed the image of the man crawling in the
corner, reaching for a rifle, thinking he wasn’t seen. Burke raised the gun and
the cross hairs lined up on the man’s head. No second chances. He squeezed the
him. Hopefully that’s the last one,” Cass said. She sounded calm and neutral
faceplate of Burke’s helmet released with a hiss. It extended forward and
raised above his forehead, revealing his face as he walked toward Pond. She
backed up away from him until she hit the wall behind her. She pressed her back
against and glared defiantly at him. He marched toward her unperturbed.
they’re paying you, I’ll double it,” she growled.
normal circumstances, he would have laughed at the mismatched angry expression
she wore and her begging tone of voice. This woman had stolen people and given
them a fate he considered worse than death. He had spoken with their families
and heard about the children she had stolen along with the adults. She had
shown no mercy and neither would he.
opened her mouth to beg again but Burke was already swinging his fist. His
armored hand was heavy and smashed into the center of her face. Her nose
erupted in a spray of blood. He must have punctured something in her mouth—he
hoped it was her tongue—because she spat out blood when she opened it.
would, but they want you alive.”
opened the compartment at his waist where a grapple line was usually stored.
They had removed the hook for this bounty and Burke used it now to tie her
hands and legs together. Pond struggled wildly when she realized what he was
doing. It took two more blows to the back of the head before she was stunned
enough to be properly restrained. He left the guards. He only had room for one
his ship, Burke threw Pond into the single holding cell without untying her. He
left her to struggle on the floor but still locked the cell door as a final
insult. He turned the lights off when he left the room. He was angry that he
wasn’t allowed to kill her.
deserves worse than this,” Burke muttered as he removed the pieces of his
had already transferred herself from the suit and into the ship. She started
the launch procedure and they were undocking from the space station.
know,” her voice came from the walls in Burke’s room. After he had removed the
last pieces of the suit, he pulled on some clothes and walked out into the
corridor that lead to the ship’s helm. It was at the front of the ship and
Cass’s voice changed to emit from each room as he stepped into it.
people who hired us want justice,” she continued. “Just hearing about her being
killed far away won’t bring them closure. Seeing her in prison will bring them
they’re wrong. She’ll get out.”
know,” Cass said. Her voice was as clear and smooth as a human’s. She could
convey emotions as well as Burke. She sounded sad.
sat down at the controls to the ship. There were three chairs in the room but
the other two were blocked with boxes of supplies: guns, ammunition, food, and
water. The ship was smaller than he was used to even after living in it for
more than a year. He had had a better ship once and a human partner, Adam,
instead of an AI. He had lost both in the previous year. He missed his old ship
but not his old partner. Cass had filled that void and became more than the
interface for his aegis.
you send a message to the families that wanted Pond? And call Geoff. I need to
let him know we’ll be back sooner than we thought. A few more days to drop her
off and then back to him.”
already did,” Cass replied. The command room’s display screen changed from
showing what was in front of the ship to a bright, uniform blue. It was waiting
for a connection. “He’ll be a few minutes.”
set a hand on his right leg and absentmindedly rubbed at it, as though it were
a sore muscle. He had lost that leg at the same time that he lost his ship. He
had gotten used to the augmented limb but sometimes it gnawed at him. The skin
where the flesh and circuitry connected sometimes itched or would swell. For
most purposes it was as good as his previous leg and, for some, it was better.
Still, it served as a reminder of what the mistakes of the last year had cost
blue screen flickered for a moment and then Geoff was displayed on it. He was
an older man and had been the only person, aside from Cass, that had helped Burke
after Adam betrayed him. He had spent the year repaying that trust and they had
settled back into a comfortable working friendship. He got most of his private
contracts and equipment through Geoff.
it’s good to see you,” Geoff said. Burke recognized the fake name as an
indicator that he wasn’t alone. He would have to keep it brief.
calling to say we’ll be back a week earlier than planned. If you’re still
selling what we discussed before, I’ll have the money sooner.”
eyes narrowed as if he was angry but he also gave the smallest of nods. Burke
knew the rest was an act. Geoff had to keep up the appearance of a mundane bar
owner and not a middle man of the criminal underworld.
you have to fucking call just for that?” he growled. Burke grinned. “It’s
evening here. We’re busy. These people, man,” he said as the connection was
screen faded back to displaying the outside of the ship. The distant stars
stayed seemingly stationary as the space station, and the planet it was orbiting,
shrunk out of view as the ship left it behind. Burke stayed at the helm until
they reached the edge of the star system and the jump gate that was situated
gates connected systems and occupied planets, shortening journeys to three days
that would otherwise take months. Gates were built to link only select systems,
noteworthy enough in population or resources to warrant frequent
transportation. Jumps were done once every twenty hours. Massive carrier ships
allowed smaller ones to either dock inside them, or latch onto the outside of
their hull. The jumps were expensive for most people but bounties paid well
enough to factor in those costs.
next jump was scheduled in eight hours. The gate itself was massive, among the
largest structures ever built by man: a blocky mass of components and arrays,
producing whatever energy that it couldn’t absorb from the nearby star. A blue
light constantly emanated from the gate’s center, constantly pulsing as it sent
nonstop information to the network made by the other gates. It was how Burke
had been able to talk to Geoff.
ready, Cass,” Burke said as they neared the jump ship. There was always one of
the gargantuan ships in a sluggish orbit around the gate, allowing ships easy
access as it lumbered around for another jump. Each time a ship approached it
would be checked for both payment and the identities of the occupants.
Criminals were not permitted to use the gates, even if they were in a jail cell
on a bounty hunter’s ship.
ship’s display changed to a warning: a red screen and white letters. They were
all in capitals:
HUMANOID LIFEFORMS DETECTED.
I turn us around?” Burke asked.