Clarke had just missed the Cormorant, and with that his prey was in the wind again.
Having no leads other than a space station amongst half a dozen, Clarke started heading back for a drink and a hot meal before taking up the trail again. Before he'd strapped in, his comms started buzzing, incoming call..
"Hey hunter, how goes it?" it was Rik on the other end of the line.
"The mark got away, but I'll get him" Clarke replied tersely.
"I don't doubt it. How about you come see me, I think it's time to call in that favor.."
"As soon as I've got this wrapped up, sure."
"Oh, I think you might want to come sooner rather than later. I saw one of them nomads just a minute ago, did I forget to mention that? These are my coordinates" Rik concluded, the smug look on his face could almost be heard.
"OK,OK, see you soon Rik" Clarke dropped the connection, fed in the coordinates and headed for the closest starport.
He was on the trail again.
"Good to see you too partner. I saw him in the halls, but I think they might be holed up in main warehouse space. Somebody rented it short-term and kicked out anyone else of the space, or so I've heard." Rik replied.
"You should check out the back entrance, farthest to the left, I guess I'd say north if we were dirtside" he quickly added.
"Thanks Rik, I'll owe you one"
"That's two you owe me now Clarke, and I have just the thing, but finish your business and then come see me" Rik shouted at his back. Clarke was already checking his weapons and running another diagnostic on his armour, he might need them soon.
Somebody have blocked the entrance with a few stacks of barrels and crates, no way he's getting through here.
The main entrance the only recource, he consults the station plans, and decides to check in with the Unity security detail that's on the station. They might know something useful..
As he comes back into the main hall, he spots something moving behind one of the pillars.
Could it be what he thought it was? It looked like a nomad in purple battle armour, the same sort worn by the ones he fought on the planetoid.
Only one way to know for sure..
"Hey, you know that there's a complete weapons ban on the station, right?"
The nomad looks his way. No response.
"Just hand over the weapon and pay the fine, and we won't have a problem" the guardsman adds, not sure if the nomad understands him.
As soon as they step out in force, the nomad opens fire, hosing the corridor and security station with bullets.
The CO is protected by a bulkhead and one of his underlings manage to dodge out of the way in the nick of time. The last guard is not so lucky, a barrage of bullets tear through his armor, leaving a dozen smoking holes..
Clarke runs up to the dazed guards when the nomad slips around the corner.
"Don't shoot, I'm a licenced bounty hunter in pursuit of a target."
The shaken soldier hesitates, but lowers his weapon when his CO nods at him.
"Sorry about the probie here, he's a bit jumpy on account of almost biting the dust." the CO said, smiling apologetically.
"He sure isn't alone,can tell you that much. He and his goons forced all the other renters out of the space, we were willing to let it slide, seeing as they were leaving later today."
"But killing Unity officials is a class alpha felony, so they are all going down." The Co's anger was barely restrained.
"Private, start up the security droid, I think we might have need of it" he ordered his subordinate, who quickly complied. "We're ready if you are hunter" he said with a sharklike smile.
Snapping out of cover, Clarke manages to pin the nomad in the doorway.
The pinned nomad manages to dive in behind a console, just before the droid comes into view.
Rounding the corner, the droid, known as Red, starts up his apprehension program:
"You have been found guilty of violating Unity charters and law, as well as class alpha felonies. Surrender or you will be fired upon!"
When he tries to get up, he is knocked down again as a brave nomad takes cover next to the door for a better firing position.
it doesn't take long for the bounty hunter to snap out of it though. He fires a quick burst to keep the shooters head down, then he charges in and gut him with his blade.
The single survivor from the heist is forced to seek cover yet again, as Clarke's shots slam into the wall behind him.
Red manages to get up without further incident, but as soon as he comes through the door, a barrage is headed his way! Peeking out of cover, Clarke is quickly pinned down as well, when the nomad hiding behind the console opens up on them again.
Even more bullets hit the downed Red, tearing off pieces of armor and ripping cables and servos apart. Lying in a pool of his own oil, Red's eyes flicker once, and then they go dark..
"Damn it, that rust-bucket didn't do any good, now did he" the CO cursed, lamenting their bad luck.
Seeing his chance, Clarke once more breaks cover, firing a burst of gauss rounds at some of the nomads. The high velocity rounds scream through the air, cutting a few new holes in an unfortunate nomad, his body slowing the rounds enough that the man behind him only gets dazed rather than killed.
As all this takes place, Clarke closes the distance to the console and slams into the nomad hiding there. A second later the nomad is dead, the blade penetrating his heart.
Clarke once again moves up, but the incoming fire forces him to seek cover.
A few rounds find their way through his armour, but luckily the auto-medic in his suit starts sealing the wound and injects a cocktail of drugs to keep him on his feet.
Feeling little of the pain, the bounty hunter once again charges with his blade at the ready, stabbing and slashing. It's a close thing with his wound sapping his strength, but the eventually dispatches his foe.
Clarke quickly gets into another close combat, but this time he's pushed back into cover after suffering a wound, reducing his chances of surviving later attacks!
..But it does allow for Clarke to take advantage of his foe's split attention. The last nomad is no match for his marksmanship, gauss rounds slamming into his back, knocking him over.
He doesn't get back up.
Searching through the crates in the warehouse, Clarke finally finds what he's looking for: the stolen minerals are packed into a crate at the back of the room, hidden from view. With all the robbers dead and the minerals reclaimed, this bounty is finally finished!
"Eh, Clarke, we've got incoming!"
"That's just great. more nomads?" he shouts back at the guardsmen.
"Yeah, but these ones are different, their armor is all shiny and one has a big cannon"
"Shit, just what we need, proper pirates.." the bounty hunter mumbles as he checks his rifle.
Their superior skill is evident in the way they move into the space, checking corners and covering eacho other without even a word or signal.
The guards open fire to little effect, but the return-fire from the pirates is deadly; the private slumps to the ground, trying to hold his intestines inside his body, while the CO is driven to the ground by the incoming hits.
Between the harsh barks of automatic weapons and the screams of the dying man, Clarke has an idea. The crates blocking the way could be blown apart if he set a couple of grenades detonate amongst them. He quickly arms a belt of 4 grenades and flings them into the middle of the crates.. The resulting explosion is deafening in the enclosed space and only his armours systems keep his eardrums from rupturing.
Taken by surprise at the sudden explosion rocking the station, one of the pirates are caught in the open when the last guard opens fire before retreating into cover.
His heavy armor is dented, but holds, even though he has the wind knocked out of him.
..Just as a nomad pirate moves into view!
The desperate bursts from the CO fails to hit it's target, slamming harmlessly into the far wall.
The pirate is far better prepared, and his shots find their mark, a group of gauss rounds tear through the CO leaving him motionless on the floor.
With time quickly running out, Clarke heads through the now open doorway only to spot a pair of pirate that moved around to intercept him!
The hammerblows of rounds impacting the bulkhead all around him, he quickly decides to use his last grenade, aiming for s spot between his assailants. As the grenade goes off, it forces both nomads to the ground with a new set of dents in their armours,allthough none of them lethal.
Knowing the others will catch up quickly if he doesn't keep moving, the bounty hunter finishes off one of his downed attackers as he runs on by, dodging into cover as bullets start flying again.
Their target outnumbered and wounded, the pirates try to surround him to go in for the kill..
But Clarke runs ever onward, heedless of the danger and how close their bullets are getting. When he reaches the next pillar, he stops to catch his breath and fires of a few rounds at his pursuers, causing one of them to trow himself flat to avoid the tungsten bullet.
The remaining pirates have caught up to their comrades and start adding more fire to theirs.
Thanks to his customized armour and the devil's own luck, Clarke makes it without more than a few dents and some chipped paint.
Having gained precious distance to his target, Clarke braces against the bulkhead wall, opening up full-auto.
The air fills with heavy tungsten rounds, the noise of his rifle drowns out the world. The nomad pirates at the front take the worst of it, turned into an barely recognizable fleshy pile, collapsing in apparent dead silence.
Sound slowly returns to the station, the dazed pirates scrambling to go after the hunter that hurt them so bad.
A few hours later, close to the orbit of Churchill 7:
Clarke's comms suddenly burst to life, an incoming call. Great he sighs to himself, what now?
But he still answered:
"Clarke, you there, it's Rik. You left one heck of a mess on Cooper station, Unity put us all in lockdown until the incident have been investigated. Thanks for that one.." a grumpy voice said on the other end of the line.
"Hey, they shot first. I just finished it" Clarke grinned.
"Not sure that matters to the Unity boys, but that's not why I'm calling. Remember the favors you owe me? I'm calling them in"
"Alright, what's the job?"
"I need you to take care of a supply problem. My contact in the deema collective is not returning my calls and my last delivery was a no-show. Forwarding you his details, sort it out for me will you?"
"I don't like dealing with illegal narcotics Rik, you know that"
"Sucks to be you man, but you owe me"
"That's both your favors then Rik"
"Roger that partner, call me when you have something"
The comms goes dead as Rik hangs up. I hate drugs Clarke muttered under his breath.
Clarke was a few hours from landing on Churchill 7 again, the first thing he'd need to do was to find a Unity official and claim his bounty. Sweet credits. A hot shower and a meal.
What happened to Riks contact? What will happen in the deema collective? Tune in next time for more space adventure!
Til next time!