Nebula Risen: A Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter Novel, страница 1
-A Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter Novel-
Copyright 2017 by Jake Bible
The light armor took the brunt of the impact from the Blorta 65 laser pistol, but getting hit by a Blorta was never fun, no matter the protection. Roak went down and rolled to the side of the corridor, his Tonal Five precision shock blaster already up and aimed at the punk that shot him.
“This doesn’t have to be hard, kid!” Roak shouted as the few residents of the Pesca moon’s mining station out and about at 3am turned tail and ran for cover. “Fire at me again and–!”
The punk kid did fire at Roak again, forcing the bounty hunter to roll back to the center of the corridor, his TF shock blaster letting loose with two blasts.
“Dammit!” the punk kid shouted as he fell to his knees, both arms stunned into uselessness. “What the hell do you want?”
Roak grunted and slowly got to his feet. His light armor was scored just below his ribcage on the right side of his body, but the laser shot didn’t come close to breaching the flexible material. There would be some seriously bad bruising, but nothing Roak couldn’t handle or patch up with a few minutes in a med pod back on his ship.
“You should ask those kinds of questions before you start shooting, moron,” Roak said as he walked slowly towards the punk kid. “Save you some misery. But I guess I wouldn’t be here if you knew how to do that.”
“Why are you here?” the punk kid snapped. “Who sent you? My father? Well, you can tell him–”
The punk kid didn’t get to finish as Roak reached him and sent a gloved fist straight into the kid’s mouth, knocking him onto his back with a dazed look in his eyes and blood pouring from between split lips.
“It’s Gett, yeah?” Roak asked as he holstered his TF shock blaster. The punk kid didn’t respond. “I will kick the crap out of you until every rib is broken.”
“Yeah,” Gett Willz replied. The punk kid was not so much a kid as a spoiled young man in his early twenties. He glared up at Roak, his focus coming back and his anger obviously rising. “Who the hell are you?”
“Roak,” Roak replied. “And, yeah, your father hired me to track you down and bring you home.”
“Not going home,” Gett snarled and spat bloody phlegm onto the floor. “Tell my father he can–”
Roak kicked the punk kid in the left hip. Gett cried out and grabbed his hip with numb and shaking hands as his eyes watered with tears of intense pain.
“I know a thousand more points on your body that will hurt way worse than that,” Roak said and took a deep breath as he rubbed the scorch mark on his armor. He bent down and picked up Gett’s laser pistol, tucking it into his belt before he snapped his fingers. “Stop being such a baby and get your ass up.”
“How?” Gett gasped. “You broke my Eight Million Gods damned hip!”
“I didn’t break shit, kid,” Roak said. “I can if you want so you know the difference, but then I’ll have to carry you back to my ship and I don’t want to carry you back to my ship.”
“I’m not going back!” Gett shouted, his voice a petulant whine.
“Yes, you are,” Roak said. “Your father paid a good deal for me to find you and return you to him. I get you back within the week and I get a nice bonus. I could use that bonus, kid.”
Roak patted the laser pistol.
“Got a line on a Flott Five-Six concussion blaster with laser cluster spread,” Roak said. “If you know anything about weapons, then you know those are neither cheap nor easy to come by.”
Gett stared up at Roak. “What the hell are you jabbering about? I don’t give a shit about any Flott whatever.”
Roak shrugged. “Fine. Just thought you might want to know how serious I am.”
“Because you want to buy a gun? Who cares?” Gett snarled.
“I do,” Roak said and shrugged again. “Like I said, they’re hard to come by and aren’t exactly cheap. So get your ass up and start walking, kid. Got a short window to get off this ass backwards station.”
“How much is the gun?” Gett asked.
“No,” Roak replied and bent down to grab the kid’s arm. Gett scooted out of reach. “Come on, now. Don’t give me any crap.”
“Tell me how much the gun costs,” Gett said as he tried to get up onto his knees. Roak pulled the laser pistol and jammed the tip of the barrel right between the kid’s eyes. “You won’t shoot me.”
“Not there. No,” Roak said and switched his aim to Gett’s left shoulder. “This will hurt. A lot.”
“I can pay you whatever the gun costs!” Gett explained. “And whatever my father is paying you! Plus the bonus! You pocket everything and get that whatever gun out of the deal!”
“I already said no,” Roak responded.
“Can you even do math?” Gett asked. “Why would you pass up more credits?”
“Chits,” Roak said. “Cash in hand.”
“Chits. Yeah, sure, fine. Chits,” Gett said. “I can do that.”
“No, you can’t,” Roak said. “Trust me, kid, your father is paying me a lot of chits. He either really loves you or really hates you.”
“Both,” a voice said as an apartment door opened and a tall, beautiful woman dressed in travel leathers stepped out. “But he only hates me.”
Roak froze. He needed a second to size up the woman. Especially since she was holding an RX31 plasma assault rifle to her shoulder, the target laser dotting Roak’s sternum.
“Well, kid, your father wasn’t sure since you two-timed things almost perfectly, but he did have his suspicions,” Roak said, his eyes never leaving the plasma rifle. “Now I know you don’t have the chits to cover the bounty. Because she’s right. Your father hates her and he is willing to pay a medium-sized fortune for me to bring her back too.”
“You’re a big one,” the woman stated, looking Roak up and down. “But big ones fall just as easy as small ones.”
Roak was a big one. Over six feet, square-jawed and broad-shouldered, the man looked like he could have played any of a dozen of popular galactic professional sports in his youth. But his youth was long gone. Late thirties, scarred skin, ropy muscles, and eyes that were cold as ice, the man had found a new sport in life, one that involved a good deal of violence and sizable bounties.
With a reputation that was known in the galactic underworld for taking on bounties that other hunters, especially ones that were officially licensed and bonded with the Galactic Fleet, didn’t want to or couldn’t take, Roak was the guy called when things got complicated.
Tracking down Gett hadn’t been complicated. It hadn’t exactly been easy, and Roak had spent a good amount of chits greasing palms for access and information, but it hadn’t been complicated. No, the complication was standing in front of him with a plasma rifle aimed at his heart.
“Your husband ain’t too happy with you,” Roak said to the woman, Charcy Willz.
“He always wanted me to get along with Gett,” Charcy replied with a smirk. “I can’t help it if we got along a little too well.”
“Don’t care,” Roak said. “You two can diddle each other until the end of time, for all I care. Yelt Willz paid me to find and retrieve you. Both of you. Whatever your relationship is, not my concern.”
“Even if Yelt kills me?” Charcy asked. “Or kills both of us?”
“Like I said, not my concern,” Roak replied.
“So you aren’t here to kill us?” Charcy asked.
“I get paid to hunt,” Roak said. “Killing brings the heat. Not a fan of the heat.”
“You sure?” Charcy replied,
“Stop,” Roak snapped.
Charcy rolled her eyes.
“What’s your name?” Charcy asked.
“No,” Roak replied.
“Strange name,” Charcy said, the smirk still there.
“I’m not playing this game,” Roak said. “We aren’t going to get to know each other. You aren’t going to try to charm me and flirt your way out of this. I don’t care what you have under those leathers. Whatever it is can be bought on any pleasure station in the galaxy. I have a job. I aim to complete that job.”
The sound of boots on metal rang through the corridor. Charcy turned her aim from Roak to Gett.
“I shoot him and I end up in this station’s legal system,” Charcy said and barked a harsh laugh. “Which we both know is a joke. I’ll buy or screw my way out before tomorrow night. Take the kid, but let me go and Yelt never has to know.”
“What?” Gett shouted and spun around on his knees to face the woman. “What are you saying?”
“Do I have to explain it?” Charcy sighed.
“Uh, yeah, you do,” Gett snapped. “You said you loved me.”
“I bet she said she loved your father,” Roak said. “How’d that turn out?”
“What’s your answer, Mr. No?” Charcy asked Roak. “You still get the bounty for the kid.”
“My name’s not no, but my answer is,” Roak said.
Five security guards, all from different alien races, came rushing around the corner and slid to a halt, plasma weapons raised.
“Put down the weapons!” the lead guard yelled. “You will not be told again!”
“They’re talking to you,” Roak said, slowly raising his hands above his head.
“Both of you!” the lead guard barked.
“I’m not holding a weapon,” Roak said.
“In your belt and on your hip!” the lead guard yelled.
“Looks like you’re too late,” Charcy said.
“You used me,” Gett said quietly, his eyes locked onto Charcy. “This was all about you getting away from my father.”
“Suck it up, Gett,” Charcy said as she slowly lowered her rifle to the ground, eyes locked on Roak. “You’re young. Be grateful I taught you this lesson early in life. Your father learned it way too late.”
Charcy put her hands up and began to turn around. Gett lunged for the rifle.
“Eight Million Gods dammit!” Roak shouted as he pulled the laser pistol and opened fire on the guards before they could open fire on him and the punk kid. He ignored Charcy. She was more trouble than she was worth.
Two of the guards fell to the floor, their hands clutching leg wounds. Two dove back around the corner and out of the line of fire. The fifth took a knee like it was nothing and put three rounds of plasma in Charcy’s chest, knocking her to the floor. Roak popped a laser blast into his belly and he doubled over.
Before he could reach the fallen Charcy, Gett had grabbed the assault rifle and put it to the woman’s head.
“You think you can play me?” Gett snarled then pulled the trigger.
“Shit, kid!” Roak yelled, cringing at the sight of the smoking brains that splattered against the floor and up the wall.
He tucked the laser pistol back into his belt, grabbed the rifle from Gett’s hands, then popped the kid in the temple with his fist. Gett crumpled. Roak squatted, threw the kid over his shoulder, then stood and hurried down the corridor in the opposite direction of the guards.
“Hessa!” Roak called over the comm. “Engines up! I’m coming in hot!”
“Engines are up, Roak,” Hessa, his AI co-pilot and de facto business partner, replied in his ear. “How hot are we talking?”
“The Sterli job hot,” Roak said.
“You do find ways of getting into trouble,” Hessa replied. “Weapons systems are active. Do you have the target?”
“He’s over my shoulder,” Roak said as he turned a corner and pulled the laser pistol to intimidate a few workers that were just getting off the swing shift. They ducked into the closest door they could find. “Secondary target was terminated by primary target.”
“Oh,” Hessa replied. “Unfortunate. Secondary target was a lucrative bounty.”
“Still getting the bonus,” Roak said. “We should have the kid back within the week even after taking some backchannel wormhole portals to lose the security detail that will be following us.”
“That depends,” Hessa said. “It may not be so simple.”
“And why’s that?” Roak asked. He had a suspicion, though.
“Security has already called for your capture,” Hessa said. “Did you kill the secondary target, Roak?”
“Primary did. I already said that,” Roak said. “Plasma rifle to the temple.”
“Messy,” Hessa said. “But effective.”
“Yeah, it did the trick,” Roak said as he reached the lift and slammed his palm against the button. The sound of boots closing in on him, lots of boots, could be heard a couple corridors away. “Come on, come on.”
Gett stirred and Roak slammed the kid’s head into the wall, putting him down deep again, just as the lift doors opened.
“There!” a guard yelled.
Roak rushed inside and dropped Gett. Hands free, he pulled both the laser pistol and the TF shock blaster. Roak fired until the lift doors closed.
“Hessa?” Roak asked.
“I am calculating the best route now, Roak,” Hessa responded. “This station’s security protocols are woefully out of date. I should be able to lock down most corridors and redirect the security forces on all levels. But you will need to reach the hangar within seven minutes and fourteen seconds or we will not be able to take off.”
“Because there is a Galactic Fleet patrol incoming,” Hessa said. “Simple bad timing. They will be within range in eight minutes and forty-four seconds.”
“Great,” Roak said as he bent and picked Gett back up. “Just great.”
The med pod lid opened and Roak threw his legs over the side as he pressed at his side, testing for any pain under his rib cage.
“Tests are normal,” Hessa said, her voice coming from the speaker set into the med bay’s ceiling and from Roak’s ear.
“Hessa. No stereo,” Roak said as he cringed at the echo.
“Apologies,” Hessa said. “I never know if you’d rather I talk from the speaker or from your implant.”
“I’d rather I didn’t have an implant at all, but we’ve been over this,” Roak said.
“Your aversion to tech implants is not rational,” Hessa replied. “Especially since the tech I use cannot be detected. You are at a disadvantage in the field with only a comm implant.”
“Tech can always be detected by someone,” Roak said. “Or controlled by someone else. But the comm implant is in and you refuse to take it out, so here we are…”
They were silent for a couple of minutes as Roak got dressed, donning a clean T-shirt and pants before stepping into his light armor.
“I do not see why you wear that while onboard,” Hessa said. “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in a jumpsuit or clothes?”
“I like my armor,” Roak said. “Keeps me from worrying.”
Hessa huffed. She was an AI, completely artificial intelligence, but not like the other AIs in the galaxy. Roak was used to her very human affectations such as annoyed huffing, derisive snorting, and frustrated sighing.
“Where’s the kid? Still out cold?” Roak asked.
“He awoke a couple minutes ago and I allowed him to use the facilities,” Hessa said. “He is currently in the mess having a bowl of protein and carb mush.”
“Protein and carb mush?” Roak laughed. “What did he say to you?”
“He used terminology I would rather not repeat,” Hessa replied. “He is a very unpleasant young man. I do not see why his father wants him returned. It would seem to me that havi
“Only heir to a pretty vast crime syndicate,” Roak said as he left the med bay and made his way to the lift. “Not that the kid will live to take the business over. Not with that mouth of his. But, fathers like legacies.”
“Did your father like legacies?” Hessa asked.
“No family talk,” Roak said as the lift took him up to the bridge. “I don’t ask about who made you, you don’t ask about who made me.”
“Yes, Roak,” Hessa replied. “Of course.”
She didn’t bother hiding the mocking tone in her voice.
Once on the bridge, Roak took the pilot’s seat and checked the trans-space readings. They’d entered the wormhole portal eight hours earlier and should have been coming up on the first transfer point.
“Initiate stealth mode,” Roak ordered.
“Already initiated,” Hessa said. “Might I suggest you entertain our passenger?”
“Target,” Roak corrected.
“Passenger,” Hessa insisted. “He has been caught. He is no longer a target.”
“I think I know the terminology of my profession better than you do,” Roak said. “Until he’s delivered he’s a target.”
“Passenger,” Hessa stated.
“Just get us to the next wormhole portal,” Roak said. “How long?”
“In stealth mode, our speed is reduced by forty-seven percent,” Hessa replied.
Roak blinked a few times.
“Thank you,” Roak said.
Roak’s ship was a Borgon Eight-Three-Eight stealth incursion ship. It was a model used by the Galactic Fleet’s elite Drop Team units. Except Roak had purchased it, or bartered for it, from an old vehicle dealer friend; one that kept a discrete inventory of off-the-books ships. Normally expensive, Roak’s ship had been a bargain. But only because it came with a less than normal AI personality that was, as the dealer had said, “glitchy.”
In the months since, Roak realized “glitchy” was an understatement. “Dangerously sentient” was more how he would put it.
“Let me know when we hit the next wormhole portal,” Roak said. “I don’t want to be eating when we slip into trans-space.”