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Unsportsmanlike Conduct - ic

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GM

 

Za'ak orbital station 

The Lodge

 

The planet of Za'ak was a harsh place. The air borne spores could kill you. The bug swarms could tear you apart. Even the grazing beasts could crush you underfoot. From what the locals of the surrounding systems said, it wasn't that everything was trying to kill you but that compared to everything there? You were just fragile. At least if you were Lor or human. 

 

The station above the death world was filled with quite a few of both. The inside of the whole station was made to look like a log cabin. Mounted on the wall were animals and beasts from across Lor space and the Delaztri empire. Some rare, some common, and at least one was unique. Or so the owner liked to claim. 

 

The owner of the entire tire station was a very old Grue who was going just by the name of Warden. Which made some sense. The whole point of this station, the Lodge he called it, was to provide access to the most savage hunting grounds in the galaxy. The Warden was apparently above board, but his hiring process might have needed some work. A few of the hunting party guides were wanted in other parts of the galaxy. Mostly small fry. Mostly small Fry, except for one. 

 

Wanted 

Clinton "Carnivore" Cain

species: Human

crimes: 116 counts of hunting violations, 50 counts of poaching protected creatures, 700 counts of smuggling

 

Reward: 300,000 Lor credits Dead or Alive

 

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Greasy Gear never understood the appeal of something rustic. Which was the kindest word he could think of for the decor here. It looked like stepping outside would put him in a Colorado mountain peak on earth, not the desolate wastes of space. Still, he had more important things than the decor. 

 

300,000 was a lot of money, enough to keep him out of trouble for a while. The Xobron scratched at his nose with one of his fingers as he reluctantly handed over his keys to the cosmic cycle to an overly eager attendant in flannel. He sighed and walked past. Both of his tails lashed behind him as he stalked into a wide open common chamber and tried to find more information. The place was sending shuttles down with guides, that was as good a place to start as any.

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Starshot

 

The Xeno had docked at the Lodge. Gunmonkey was banned from leaving. As far as Starshot was concerned, the Lodge was enough trouble as it was. But he was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. He had hunted below, and taken well paid thrill seekers to its challenging terrain. 

 

Hmph...most regretted it....

 

But despite the beauty of the place, despite its magnetism, it had a murky side. Perhaps he even enjoyed the murky side himself, a bitter self reflection that left his sick of himself. 

 

And what better way to deal with that semi-conscious self-loathing than projection? Attack someone who was far worse than he. A poacher and smuggler that ignored all rules without apparent conscience. 

 

He was a safari hunter first, but bounty hunter too. The problem was, the Lodge was a place he would like to keep on good terms with, and Clinton Cain was under the protection of the Lodge at least to some degree. It was a nasty situation that had nailed a scowl to his mouth and forehead. 

 

In mean mood, he walked slow and hard to the main common chamber for once ignoring the magnificent trophies. Worn jacket over his shoulders and whip by his belt, but Gun left behind. 

 

He didn't want to look like he had come for a fight. But he was happy to look like he wouldn't run from one either. 

 

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Greasy Gear took in the crowd as he watched the one piece of modernity in the place. The Board. It showed all the names of the names of the guides who were available, or planetside. It didn't take long to find the name "Carnivore" on the board in glowing red letters. Next to it the words: "On Hunt" in equally brilliant red. 

 

Scattered throughout the room were computer terminals, used by patrons to get drinks or to hire guides. Of course that would mean they were sharing data on the guides. With a few quick taps of his fingers he ordered a drink and found what information on the Carnivore he could. Which was very little. He was in the northern part of the continent. He was hunting Sky-Tyrant. The massive bat dragons of the planet below.

 

Gear made a few more quick taps on the screen, four hands made for quick work on a computer. That was when he saw the error message. Well he wasn't getting past that firewall without taking some time, and was pretty sure he wasn't going to get it. He backed out of the program as he waited for the drink to arrive. 

 

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GM

 

Starshot didn't get far before one of the other guides, a young Lor girl who went by Mazer. Probably after her weapon of choice, the microwave rifle that she kept strapped to her back. She stepped right up to the big game hunter as he walked in and fell in step. They passed a few of the high tables were guests and guides mingled. Other staff moved about with drinks. 

 

"Starshot!" She grinned, she was one of the few people who had gone from spoiled brat to tough hunter. She'd gotten a taste of the thrill and hadn't left the system. One of the few tourists Starshot had taken who didn't regret a hunt on Za'ak. And a definite fan girl of his. "So whatcha here hunting? I'm sure Warden would be happy to set you up with something big. Ravaged Worm maybe?" She saw the look on his face. "Not you too." She sighed. "I never liked Clinton, but this whole deal is bringing them out of the woodwork." She nodded casually to a pair of bounty hunters, one a Lyankan with a long sword and the other a Delaztri with a sniper rifle. She also nodded at the Green Xobron with the long black coat at one of the terminals typing with all four hands. "You ever seen a Xobron before? Aren't they from the other end of Lor space?" She asked. "I'm pretty sure he's after Carnivore too."

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Starshot

 

"Ravaged worm sounds good. Slow roasted on a camp fire maybe?" he smiled back at Mazer. He felt warmth for her. Often, his guests infused him with a contained irritation. But, her excessive enthusiasm aside, she had a glow about her. 

 

He scratched his scar absently, something he did when in thought, or with a warm woman. "I have seen plenty of the galazy. Even further on occasion. It's a big place. Somehow I remember the claws and teeth most..." he answered. It was trye; the sentient species of the galaxy blurred in his memory. 

 

But perhaps the Xobron was worth talking to. At least he wasn't carrying a rifle or a sword like the other hunters. 

 

"Stay right there and don't shoot anything" he said to Mazer. "At least, not yet..."

 

He strode towards the Xobron, not saying anything, but trying to see what he was typing...

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Gear had closed the window by the time the hunter approached. It was now just showing a page of Clinton Cain. He was headed to the spawning grounds for the Sky Tyrants. Gear needed a way down there. Preferably with a guide. Which meant money or charm. Neither of which were things that Gear had enough of. 

 

Far as he could tell, you paid based on quarry and the guide's Reputation. Even going after Clinton would require a guide willing to take a city man like him into what looked like the worst part of that truly nasty planet. 

 

"You wouldn't happen to be gunning for Sky Tyrants would ye?" Gear asked the approaching hunter in Galstandard. 

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Starshot

 

Sky-Tyrants? The giant bat creatures?

 

Starshot spared an intuitive glance at the board of the Lodge. Cain's name was up there, on a hunt. Looked like the same broad location. 

 

"My favourite thing in the world" he answered, in a somewhat dry tone. 

 

The alien did not look like a bounty hunter, or a big game hunter, or any other hunter. But then, he was pretty alien. He could have been both and a opera singing trapeze artist for all he knew. But - the alien did somehow look a bit out of place, like he wasn't a regular at the lodge, not quite at home amongst tooth and claw, even if said tooth and said claw were largely stuffed and put on the walls for admirers. 

 

"Why do you ask?"

 

 

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How to respond? Gear honestly figured he was going to get shrugged off as nuts. 

 

"I happen to be looking to hunt a Carnivore." He said gruffly. Yeah no subtlety was for weapons not for him. He produced a small communicator and pulled up the bounty on Cain. "Quite a high price for what I'm trying to catch." He closed down the communicator and slid it back under his coat. He showed the handles of his beautiful pistols as well as the grenades tucked up under his coat. "Not used to tracking in this environment though. Could use a guide."

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Starshot

 

So, he was not the only one trying to catch Cain. Not surprising, but on the other hand, it was drummed home by the alien. AWhich also drummed home another point. This would mean a competition, of sorts. Other hunters, trying to bag the prize. That would mean problems actually capturing Cain, and even worse, taking him back to custody without somebody trying to steal the bounty from him. 

 

Or perhaps, from them. 

 

There was no way of knowing how trustworthy the alien was. He didn't exactly project a great vibe on first glance, but he wasn't trying to be silver tongued and shadowed either. 

 

"Not many are" he answered, becoming marginally less frosty but still cool. 

 

"I can help you there" he offered. He didn't want the money. The Xeno and his business made enough to live and more. He wouldn't say no to some more, of course - you never knew when you might need it - but his grim determination was the ending of Carnivore Cain's career. 

 

Would he end it brutally? If need be....God knew he wanted to, but the law should be the way to do it, if possible. 

 

"I can help you there. Got a ship to get us there. Even shot a few bats a few years ago. I know the terrain and the beasts as well as anybody" he professed, with a probable slight inflation of the truth - but it never hurts to sell oneself a little. "Still, the planets a big place. Maybe we can pick him up with a sensor scan. Maybe not. Be good to know where he is..."

 

He scratched his scar again, studying the alien. 

 

"And good to know who I'm speaking too...."

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"Greasy Gear." Thinking the name was one thing. Hearing it aloud? Short and foreign, so unlike a Xobron name ought to be, left an ill taste in his mouth. Still wasn't used to it. "Gear works." He said. Good, a ship and an experienced hunter. Now they just had to get down there without tipping off Cain's location to any of the dumber hunters. 

 

"A scan might work. If we know what to scan for." Gear replied. This was more a problem he could solve. Well, they knew generally where Cain was. All they'd have to do was find a shuttle in that area. Well assuming the Carnivore was being honest about his location. "We should probably say we're going after one of the tyrants. Give us an excuse to be headed there."

 

"Sixty forty on the bounty?" He asked quietly. He'd go lower, but his decades of business told him this was a good enough place to start. 

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Starshot

 

"mmm...keep it" said Starshot. It was not entirely born of of generous goodwill. Money would be a distraction, make him beholden to some kind of contract. And he had no wish to be beholden. 

 

That said, the alien would be travelling in his ship, under his protection. That was a duty he had, although he felt it was one he had chosen rather than a deal imposed. 

 

"I have a ship that can get us down there. The Xeno. Hunting Yacht. Its not armed, but it is fast, and has some of the best sensor systems you can get. We can do a sweep, see if we can pick anything up. If I know Cain, he's probably using his drones to do the dirty stuff. With a bit of luck, we should be able to get him locked down that way" he said, considering the options. 

 

"I've got an ATV on the Xeno, too. We can use that once we know where he is. But at the end of the day, knowing that terrain, well, there are some things even an ATV can't handle. Might need to go on foot" he explained. "Sometimes easier that way, anyway, if we need to track him". 

 

The Xeno, and its ATV, where stocked up well enough for anything they might reasonably encounter. But he halted a moment. 

 

"You still haven't told me why you want him? Is it just the money? I have no problem with that, but I like to know what's in a mans heart..." he asked. 

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Easy questions first. 

"That should work, with your ship. I have my own ride for atmo. It's a flying vehicle, but with what I've heard of the sky's down there, I'm not sure how useful that will be either." One tail absent mindedly rubbed his chin. "Scans sound good, and if you need help calibrating I'm a fair hands with a computer or with machinery. One of the best in the time period." 

 

"As far as my reasons." The tails intertwined behind him. What exactly to say? Ten years from now Carnivore Cain would purchase a weapon from the Rel Imperium that would make a warship's cannons look like toys? A weapon made by Emperor of Terror Xor'cran Zemer'ker'fren Xax'lec'kian, Lord Smith of The Grand Rel Imperium? No that answer would lead to far too many questions, questions about Gear's past. But he wasn't a good liar. "I don't like some of the people he sells to. I can't really hurt them, but I can get him. The friend of my enemy is my enemy. Or something human like that."

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Starshot

 

The Time Period? A time traveller? That put his nerves up. He didn't much understand temporal physics but it always sounded weird, or dangerous. Probably both. Dragging himself from the existential anxiety of such concepts, he did what he always did, focus on the now. 

 

"Well I guess that's a good enough reason" he answered. "Guess the galaxy isn't short of reasons to put his head on a pike. Hell knows, he hasn't been shy of given reasons for people to hate him. Guess he ain't going to stop giving, either". 

 

"Welcome aboard the Xeno. I got a mechanic on board. Well, kind of a mechanic. Well...we get by...." he muttered, wondering what the simian was up to. "Whist you are a crew member, you are under my protection. That's the deal. Feel free to use its facilities as you wish. I'd ask you don't play with the plasma drives, though" he said, firmly. He was all for having someone handy with a multi-wrench or infrabolt on the ship. But he didn't want unsolicited modifications either. 

 

"Before we set off, maybe someone here knows something. Have you asked around?"

Edited by Supercape

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"A pleasure. I try not to mess with anyone's tech. I have enough issues with my tech misfiring. I'm also more of a weapons man myself. If you want me to put something on it, I'm sure that could be arranged." A ship without weapons was not what Greasy Gear would consider a good ship. Not his business though. "No, I've not asked around." Gear said. "Most people find me abrasive." He shrugged. "As far as I can tell he's trying to take down one of those Sky Tyrants in the spawning grounds. If you want to try and get more info here be my guest."

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Starshot

 

Abrasive? Starshot was not going to argue with that, but then, he had met some abrasive people who had become firm friends and some silver tongued devils who had stabbed him in the back. Not one to judge by first appearances. 

 

"Well I wouldn't spit on half the people in this joint if they were dying of thirst" he conceded, his own contempt spilling out. "But such is the nature of men and beasts. In any case, it might be worth a few words. Here, let me introduce to someone..."

 

He walked back to Mazer, bringing Greasy with him. 

 

"Mazer. Picked up a customer. We are going down the surface, might see if we can't catch a Loopzoid or two" he said, steel in his eye but warmth in his smile. Perhaps Mazer knew he was lying; it didn't matter. 

 

"But help up out. Carnivore Cain is down there, no doubt causing hell. Any idea where he went, or who might know?"

 

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GM

 

Mazer thought about it for a bit. 

"Well Warden would know where he's at, but Cain and Warden. I mean a couple of Cain's boys might know more." She pointed to a couple of hunters at a table in the corner, guys who weren't as ambitious but every bit as cruel as Carnivore. 

 

"I've never met a Xobron before. They call me Mazer." Mazer extended a hand. Gear flinched at the name but extended his in response.

 

"Gear."

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Starshot

 

Starshot scratched his stubble and gave another stroke of his scar - he always did when unsure. That's why he never played poker. 

 

"I'd sooner beat the snot out of them" he said, again grim. "But that would get us chucked out of here. And the star system, maybe" he said, almost annoyed. "Besides which, I have to keep my business running. Reputation is important"

 

Instead he sidled up to the two hunters, tapping the but of his whip and giving them a fixed, stony gaze. 

 

"Can I buy you gentlemen a drink?" he started, throwing a few credits to the bar with a "Get them what they want" type of nod. 

 

"You can thank me by telling me where Carnivore Cain went..."

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The two thug hunters laughed at starshot until they saw Mazer and Gear. They looked like they might start something till the credits hit the counter. 

 

"Damn Starshot, real hard to hate a guy like you." Sneered one sarcastically, a smaller man with big glasses. Chef they called him, cause he cooked books. "He's wrangling Sky Tyrants. You'd be smart to let him go quietly. He'll kill anyone coming for that 300,000. You. Your Monkey. The other... monkey? And her. So go, get yourself killed. More work for us." 

 

"Carnivore's gonna kill you good Starshot. And I will drink to that!" 

 

"As will I!" Chef Laughed as they grabbed their drinks and downed them. 

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Starshot

 

"I'm bad at dying. Haven't had any practice at it" he answered, like tumbling iron. 

 

"Killing though. Lots of practice. Good at it. But I guess you won't be celebrating your death"

 

He turned away.

 

"Because you will be dead"

 

He strode off.

 

"Idiots" he muttered. "Small men with big mouths. Somebody's going to bust those lips one day. Let's hope its me" he said to Gear and Mazer.

 

"Let's go. We have enough to go on and I need an open sky to breathe under".

Edited by Supercape

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GM

 

The Xenos hovered high above the breeding grounds. Outside where an angry tyrant could get them, and well below the Lodge. Calibrating the sensors to locate Carnivore's drones hadn't been difficult. What was difficult was making sense of the data. A hundred miles in any direction from the "center" of it. The drones were bouncing signal off each other making it hard to ping their central control point. Could have been a few places. None of which made for ideal landing zones. 

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Starshot

 

The Xeno was pretty smooth despite the weather, and was certainly fast. Starshot sat at the bridge, communicating with Ooka over the intercom, with Greasy Gear in the bridge by him. 

 

Unarmed it might be, but the Xeno was a luxury yacht class vehicle. The seats were Artavian leather, and the latest in comfort. And the Xeno had some of the best sensor systems in the galaxy. Digital augmented holodisplays of the surface, atmospheric readouts, scanner verification software, the works. 

 

Starshot stared at the mess he was receiving. It felt like he was picking up too much, rather than too little. 

 

"Its like a thousand decoys" he grumbled, switching on the intercom. "Monkey! Can't you refine the scan?"

 

"Monkey say, Monkey no do" came the retort. Gunmonkey spoke like an American Cowboy, with heavy sarcasm. 

 

Starshot let out a vexed sigh. 

 

"Well, we got the northern mountains, the eastern swamps, or the southern jungles. Hardly a narrow field" he muttered, showing Gear the ember-hued areas on the holo-display. 

 

"I guess its a matter of searching on ground. The ATV should manage most of the terrain. But its harsh going" he admitted. "I would have wanted to narrow the field a little more. If you can make any sense of the data here, please, the ship's computer is yours..."

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Gear went right to work. All four hands and both tails danced across the console. The display lit up like a Christmas tree before dying down. The eastern portion vanished.

"well looks like he's mountainside or Jungle." He rubbed his chin with a tail. "Up to you, I bet if we can get a drone we can hack into his system. I say we pick one area and get 'em."

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Starshot

 

"The Jungle then. More cover" decided Starshot, without much enthusiasm but with cutting decisiveness. The Devil and the Deep Blu Sea. But no point debating the merits of one or the other. They will both be difficult. 

 

He had no particular wish to damage the Xeno on this harsh world. Instead, he carefully piloted the Xeno to the best spot he could, his eye on the holo-readout. It wasn't what he had wanted, but you had to do the best with what you have. 

 

Touchdown. 

 

"We aren't going to get far in this terrain, but lets take the ATV out as far as we can" Even if we only get a few hundred yards, its at least equipped with food and water. 

 

He showed Gear the way down to the ATV hangar. It was a big ship, and could squeeze in the ATV, although the vehicle was by now means small either. Large Polyrubber tyres, an armoured shell, and enough supplies to last a week. It would be able to crush its way through light vegetation without much bother. How far that would take them...well, he was not hopeful. 

 

With Gear by his side, he drove out of the Xeno, and flipped on the communications array to Gunmonkey. 

 

"Take her up, Monkey, but stay in touch..."

 

"Shure thing, cowboy" answered Gunmonkey, powering up the Xeno and drifting upwards into the atmosphere. 

 

The ATV had a radar and communications array. It might help. But at least they would have a smaller, mobile base even nif they could not get far in it. 

 

"Feel free to do your thing" he said to Gear with a smile. "I can drive this thing, even patch it up a little, but I'm no technician" he explained. 

 

"I think we are going to have to go on foot sooner or later. We have water and supplies here, but make no mistake, its a savage land with savage beasts. Can you shoot straight?"

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Gear just spun one of his four pistols lazily. He could shoot, he wasn't the best at it, but if he hit, things didn't tend to get back up.

"Won't lie, I can shoot, and I can hit things." Gear had grabbed his long handled hammer when he put the cycle on the Xeno. "But I'm more of the mentality that quantity makes quality, and sometimes that means just blasting away. I'm also no hunter, don't expect me to be... sporting."

 

"I think the best plan of action is to down a drone." Gear said, his hands flew over the keyboard. "There we go." He pointed with a tail. "Not far and we should be able to get there all in this." 

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