I sometimes wish I'd stayed on Volaras VI. It's not my home planet, but the people there were nice enough, and the sky was big. I can barely remember the last time I got to stretch out my wings, much less fly.
But when you're a galactic bounty hunter, you've got to make sacrifices. Staying on this bloody spaceship is one of mine.
The control panel sets a soft glow against my purple skin, a kaleidoscope of green, amber, and red shifting over my wings and face in the otherwise darkened cockpit. The ship is running on stealth mode, more because I like the dark than because I'm trying to hide. After all, I'm the only person aboard, other than my captive, and he's passed out cold from the tazer net I had to catch him with. You'd think these perps would learn to stop running--it's so much less painful for them when they just turn themselves over calmly.
I keep a record tablet in the ship's computers, detailing each of the perps I've brought in. The two or three that came along quietly, I allowed to sign their pictures, with the words "Surrendered like a man" written under method of capture. I like to think they took pride in that.
Of course, having a perp give themselves up is rare. If bounty hunters always had it so easy, we'd all have retired ages ago to planets like Volaras VI. Instead, I'm having to spend half the bounty I'm earning from this latest catch to get my left wing repaired. Of course, it's my own damn fault. I was trained to go in assuming that the perp was packing the heaviest arms he could carry--and I left myself wide open for the laser shot that ripped through my wing. Stupid.
I have half a mind to set this heap on autopilot and take out a pound of flesh on this sorry loser. But I won't.
The bounty contract on this guy says that he's to be returned without a scratch. I can't figure out why--he's wanted by the head of the Gulgrian Guard. The beating I'd give him now would pale in comparison to the torture he's going to endure by their hands. If I didn't know what is on this guy's rap sheet, I'd almost feel sorry for him.
As it stands, I have a hard time feeling sorry for an assassin, especially one that killed a member of the Gulgrian royal family and shot a hole in my wing. Most Gulgrian assassins kill themselves in the effort. That this guy didn't either marks him as uncommonly brave or uncommonly stupid. By the fact that he was so easy to track from the Gulgrian homeworld, my bet is on him being stupid.
We'd been cruising through the Orion Territories for a few days. My prisoner only woke up twice, and both times it was only to scream, panic, and run straight into the electrified bars of his cell, making him pass out once more. After observing this, I began to thank whatever God there might be that I didn't get hurt worse than I did taking him in--the crazy ones are always the most dangerous.
But crazy or not, this guy is toast. On the sensor readouts, little blips appear marking the edge of the Gulgrian territories. Some are beacons, some are patrol ships. With this ancient heap I'm in, the only way to tell them apart is to watch the readouts and see which ones move.
As my ship gets closer, a voice buzzes and crackles through the communicator. Gotta get that thing fixed.
*This is the Gulgrian enforcer ship Trakana. State your designation and purpose in the Gulgrian territories.*
"This is the bounty ship Ozymandias, bounty permit No. 852-ZC, delivering a prisoner to the head of the Gulgrian Guard, back on homeworld."
After a moment of buzzing on the communicator, the voice responds.
*State the name and bounty contract number of the prisoner.*
"Bounty contract number GU-8799, Selanious Gg'ratch."
I hate saying Gulgrian names. My tongue always feels like it's been coated in oil by the time I'm done. A few more minutes went by, a dull buzzing issuing from the communicator.
*Bounty ship Ozymandias, you have been cleared for passage to homeworld. Due to the nature of your bounty, you will be escorted. Deviation from course will result in your ship being destroyed.*
Like that hasn't happened before. Fine, they wanna play themselves up to be tough guys, I'm not gonna argue. On the sensors, two ships, Gulgrian fighting sloops by the speed and size of them. Well, if they were gonna kill me, they were gonna do it with style. I set in the coordinates for homeworld, and settled myself back in my chair for a nap. Even at top speed, it takes my ship five hours to reach homeworld from the Gulgrian border, and with fighting sloops on either side of me, I couldn't go full speed without risking getting blown out of existence. Now I just had to sit back and wait.