Project Description

GULLIVAR’S LAST BOUNTY

STEVEN KOUTZ

A short story that occurs some amount of time before events in Shadowed Stars the Reign of the Black Guard book 2 in the mature Sci-Fi series

 

        The starship was a Kemyyon battle freighter class, dubbed the Spear. The owner embarked and walked directly through the narrow corridors directly to the cockpit, as the freighter lifted off and ascended into the sky. He was a human about six feet five inches in height. His body was thin. He had long brown hair with purple highlights and a scruffy attempt to grow facial hair. The only difference to regular humans was the two long metal spikes he had grafted to the backside of each hand, one at the center of his throat, and at each side of his neck. He was Gullivar, and once in the cockpit asked his pilot if the course was plotted. The Spear had just jerked as it had entered atmosphere. The pilot said he would have it shortly. The pilot and gunner were both standard human males that had served the bounty hunter for most of his career. The pilot was Davenar and the gunner was Aceton. It was Aceton that mentioned the rumor of Haze Allura and Bear Kron being on the same hunt. Gullivar laughed and dismissed them as amateurs. He added that their gathered information of the Frugiki headed back to his homeworld of Keelneeko was a false lead and by the time they figured it out and got turned around, Chiptus would be already in their clutches. Aceton then inquired if Mortigan might be encountered on this hunt. He added that not much had been heard of him since their last encounter. The name brought a slight scowl to Gullivar’s face. He responded that just because nothing had been heard of him, did not guarantee Mortigan was out of action.

The Spear had just entered near orbit and Davenar stated that hyperspace access was still blocked by whatever the Derths had done to gain their exclusive access. Nobody had expected the Derths to be that well advanced. Gullivar shook off the claim. He informed Davenar to plot a regular course to Tyzalon at their fastest speed. He added that their bounty was just as limited now in space travel as everyone else. Ironically, what the Derths had done had put the hyperspace abilities of every race out of action and placed all space travel on an even footing. Davenar reported that it would take four rotations. Gullivar inquired if there was anything closer. Davenar reported that Nylly was the only system in the path and it was a half rotation out of the way. All the information that Gullivar had gathered placed Chipus ahead of them by a rotation and headed to the planet of Tyzalon. Nylly was a various race dwelling commerce planet and much more crowded. It was an easier place to hide. The Frugiki had a humanoid form except for their feathers, beaks, and eyes. This made them more bird-like although they were flightless. A race such as the Frugiki would stand out more on a paradise planet like Tyzalon. Gullivar trusted the information he had gathered and instructed Davenar to stay on the Tyzalon course.

 

The four rotations were uneventful and the two human crewmembers passed much of the time watching holographic multi race porn and gambling at a rectangular card game called Tichi and a chip game called Sedikior. Gullivar had participated in some of the gambling but his focus was on the profile of his Frugiki target. Chipus was wanted by the Black Guard for unproven claims of terrorism and a few crimelords for smuggling drops. When a crimelord hired a smuggler, they expected the full smuggled freight. They did not tolerate multiple excuses of forced merchandise drops. It was later discovered that the missing merchandise was not dropped at all but delivered to crimelord rivals. The Black Guard was paying 100,000 drekings. The crimelords were paying about the same but in mixed currencies. Neither client really cared if he was brought in dead or alive. Gullivar figured he would catch him and deliver him to the closest client.

The Spear landed at the third largest resort on Tyzalon, Wonder Beach. The three shipmates disembarked and secured the Spear with a coded lock. Gullivar provided both his human companions with a holographic disc of their bounty. He sent them on their own search while he headed in the opposite direction. Gullivar had visited many of the local taverns and paid well for his leads. He had learned of a small beach layout where three Frugiki had constructed ground nests as customary for their culture. One such Frugiki had arrived just one rotation ago. Gullivar commed his companions with the coordinates and the rendezvous was set.

Gullivar had arrived first and his companions were overdue. He attempted two separate comms to each of them and both went unanswered. He decided to go after his target alone. He carefully crept into the sandy area with three large ground nests clustered together. They were made with branches, twigs, leaves, and grass. They were woven together and sealed with mud, saliva, and some bodily solids. Gullivar closely examined the ground nests. Only one of them seemed newly constructed. He looked around with a confusion that they all three seemed abandoned. Once a ground nest was made, Frugiki did not usually travel far from them and leave them unattended for long. There was some damage to the first two and it was possible that the Frugiki had collectively searched for repair materials. Upon closer examination, Gullivar realized that the damage was not from wear but from a heavy blaster attack. He followed a trail and found many feathers gathered outside a cave. He drew his two blaster pistols and looked around. He then called out, “Mortigan! I am not falling for your cave trick! Mortigan, show yourself you freak!” A butchered Frugiki body then fell from above the cave entrance. As Gullivar looked up, he ran closer to the side of the entrance and was snared around his ankle by a buried vine trap. He dangled upside down about ten feet from the ground. He looked up at Mortigan above the cave. Gullivar shot both blaster pistols up at him and hit only rock. Mortigan had shifted position and was out of sight. Gullivar dropped one of his blaster pistols. He grabbed onto the vine and pulled himself up to his snared ankle. He then used the sharp spikes on the back of his left blaster wielding hand to cut the vine that had ensnared him. He dropped to the dirt covered ground and tumbled to a knelt position. As he reached for his earlier dropped blaster pistol, he was frozen by a blaster pistol to the back of his head and a voice. “Drop the other one aside that one, rise and turn slowly with both hands up and palms toward me.” Gullivar did as he was instructed but as he turned, he greeted his oldest rival, “Hello Mortigan.”

The man Gullivar now faced was a Sparbosan. The Sparbosans were humanoid except for brown splotches of skin over their bodies. Mortigan resembled no more of his native Sparbosan look. He was feared and famed for never bringing a bounty in alive and for his ritual of grafting pieces of his bounty’s skin to his own. His frightful appearance of various grafted skins and hides was only enhanced by his eyes that were also replaced. He had one solid black eye from a Kro race and a solid yellow eye from a Wobmat race. Gullivar showed no intimidation to the appearance and asked if his new chin stitched skin was human or an offshoot. Mortigan replied that it was genuine human. He mentioned he would finally have that orange scaled Derth skin there if it had not been for Gullivar robbing him of that long-desired prize on their last encounter. Gullivar replied, “I really thought the Derths would have devoured you in that pit. I thought that our encounters were finally over.” Mortigan chuckled and replied, “Did you really?” Mortigan then suggested that perhaps the purple highlights to his hair had damaged his brain.

Gullivar attempted a side look distraction. It took Mortigan’s attention away for only a split sec, but that was all Gullivar needed. He quickly turned his hands and drove the spears from the back of his right hand into Mortigan’s gun hand and the other into his upper right chest. Mortigan dropped his blaster pistol and turned away as the spikes pulled out from his hand and chest. Gullivar used the action to kick away his feet and Mortigan fell to the ground. Gullivar had quick drawn two smaller blaster pistols from concealed gadgets at his wrists and now looked down at Mortigan with both guns readied. He asked if Chipus was still alive. Mortigan with one hand gently pulled open his vest to reveal newly grafted feathers across his abdomen. Gullivar then asked if the butchered Frugiki corpse was Chipus. Mortigan only smiled, revealing his jagged Mermen teeth and forked Niq tongue. Gullivar asked if Mortigan had anything original left. Mortigan replied, “Just my cock and balls.” Mortigan then asked Gullivar, “You going to shoot me or what?” It was now Gullivar’s turn to smile. He said, “I will I just want to savor the moment.” Mortigan asked for a last request to watch the sunset as his last view. Gullivar seemed hesitant but they had been rivals for so long that he could not deny the last request of his most challenging enemy. Mortigan slowly rose to his knees and positioned himself to watch the sunset. Gullivar shifted his stance to face his prey and as he did, he heard the click. Gullivar instantly knew he had made a mistake at the sound. He fired both small blasters quickly as he dove to one side with the explosion beneath his feet.

His shots, because of his forced dive only grazed Mortigan. His dive was also not quick enough to avoid the explosion and his lower legs were blown away. Mortigan stood over him and stated that even bounty hunters have prices on their heads. He claimed that He might just honor Gullivar by taking him in alive. Gullivar replied, “When you bring your first ever bounty in alive, it might be your last.” A hail of heavy blaster fire suddenly hit all around him, sending Mortigan into a panicked retreat.

 

Ten rotations later, Gullivar awoke in a hospital bed at Mercy Star. It was a medical space station on the disputed border to Black Guard and Derth / Ubide space. Both sides had agreed to a treaty that no hostilities would be inflicted on Mercy Star as long as there were no weapons, it remained medical function only, and any race could be treated without fear of capture. It was the most neutral location in all the known galaxies.

A long black haired female Dovol, a red skinned race that looked like the devil itself of Earth lore, named Doctor Tempa Succu stood over Gullivar. She explained that they were able to fit him with robotic leg replacements. She departed as Davenar and Aceton entered. They apologized for the delay. They stated that They had been detained by random thugs, which they now realized had been paid off by Mortigan. Davenar asked if Gullivar was ready to go. Gullivar sat up and swung his robotic legs and feet over the bed. He stared at them for the longest moment. Aceton asked, “Gullivar?” He looked up at his two human companions. Gullivar handed a comstick to Davenar. It held the rights of ownership to the Spear. He asked Davenar to drop him off on Hortis Six. He stated that he was going to find a safer line of work. He added, “As for bounty hunting. I am retired.”

THE END

Mortigan and Gullivar will share one last encounter in Shadowed Stars the Reign of the Black Guard book 2 in the series