A Bounty Hunter’s worst day

A short story I wrote, originally for Star Wars Galaxies MMO, but adapted to a new character for Star Wars the Old Republic MMO. Enjoy.

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The chatty, steely din of the cantina washed over Nee`kolai as he stood by the bar, peering into the crowd. He hated this place. The cantina had become such a dive over the past year. Many of the people he had previously known had died, moved on, or simply rejected this desert-spawned liquor-hole altogether. This day, the miasma of drinkers were strangers to him, entirely… except for one man.

After bribing the door Rodian, he learned that his target had been indulging himself for most of the day and became quite the nuisance. Nee`kolai watched him casually, as he had for the past three hours, nursing his drink and waiting until just the right moment to make his move.

Cyntharia stepped directly into his view, “You want anything else, hon? My shift is almost over.”

Nee`kolai glanced at his nearly finished Jawa juice and shook his head. She smiled and sauntered away, “Alright then. Have a safe one, sweetie.”

Peering across the room, a knot began to tie itself within Nee`kolai’s stomach. His bounty mark was gone.
“Fek.”

He waved absently, at the departing waitress, as he swiftly scanned the cantina. Nee`kolai caught just the tip of fluttering robes disappearing through the back hallway. In a shot, he was up and on the move, checking his weapon, injecting his Mustafarian serum, gulping a swig of adrenal booster, and popping a blue endorphin capsule into his mouth. He wove in and out of the crowd, reaching the back hallway just in time to here the rear magnetic door reseal. He bolted through the rear corridor and burst out the exit, quickly surveying the sand-laden alley.

“There,” he whispered to himself, a feral grin inching across his face.

His prey was casually strolling toward the Anchorhead shuttleport, some young and shapely Twil’ek hanging off his elbow and bumping hips as they bantered away, giggling and teasing in that sensual way that indicated the prelude to a one nighter.

Nee`kolai checked his weapon one last time, prepped his razor-wire snare and moved off in pursuit, shadowing the couple into the main avenue that serviced the Mayoral structure. As he stepped out from the corner, snare ready for the throw, he saw movement beside him.

“Nee`kolai, you are hereby ordered to die by the Alliance Bounty Hunters Association, for the slaying of one Aledar Amensia,” a rather large and foreboding figure in full RIS armor stated flatly.

“Fek,” Nee`kolai spat.

He and the other bounty hunter rolled in opposite directions, taking cover behind some parked land speeders. They exchanged furious blaster fire, tossed laser snares, and lobbed phosphorous mini-grenades at one another. Citizens ran screaming, Anchorhead police officials hid behind mudbrick buildings and binary loaders, and Imperial troopers simply flipped off safeties while remaining at their posts. It was one hell of a fight, both hunters blackened and bloody. But in the end, Nee`kolai fell. His inferior armor simply could not compensate for the more seasoned bounty hunter’s Mustafarian lightning cannon. Damn that planet and its weaptech nerds.

As Nee`kolai agonizingly began to fade from consciousness, the titan in heavily scored and burnt RIS limped over to his broken form lying in the sand-blanketed street, “You scorched my armor, ruined my shield gen, and cost me half a case of enhancement drugs. I’ll just take this as payment,” the Republic hunter bent down sorely and removed Nee`kolai’s favorite sidearm.

Too tired to move his lips, let alone anything else, Nee`kolai simply thought his last comment as the blackness finally claimed him.
‘…fek.‘

Sometime later, Nee`kolai awoke, dizzy and nauseous. He immediately emptied his stomach contents. He felt terribly weak and disoriented – like that one time he acquired a vicious pox on Kashyyyk, from one of those cave-dwelling, fecal-scented Wookiees.

He stood up straight, slow and gingerly. His right hand hurt terribly. A metallic voice droned through his bewilderment, “How do you feel?”

Nee`kolai tried to focus his vision, but to no avail, “Like ass…. where am I?”

“You are in cloning facility 273-D,” the voice droned once more.

Shock and recognition ripped through his mind as he recalled his last moments. Nee`kolai set his jaw firmly, anger rising.

“That sonuva bothan… he made me miss my mark. And why the Hell does my hand hurt so fekkin much?!”

The surgeon droid looked down at Nee`kolai’s hand, “Oh dear.”

Nee`kolai’s vision was finally starting to clear. He saw the droid just as it jabbed a needle into his arm. He saw his bloody hand fused inside the carbine he was holding when he fell. He saw that he was missing one boot and his favorite sidearm.

“…fek.”

He saw blackness.

Nee`kolai roused from a deep sleep. His hand was a bit sore, but whole and unattached to, or fused with, anything other than his arm. One foot felt a warm draft, but he was fine otherwise. He sat up on a med cot, and looked about. He was in the Anchorhead med center. A few doctors were off to one side of the room, fretting over some little boy that had been trampled by a bantha or something. No more than a bit groggy, Nee`kolai checked his belongings, gathered up what gear lay next to him, and crept outside.

A few days later, Nee`kolai came out of hyperspace. A beautiful, large planet rushed into view before him. Naboo. Lovely as it was, he hated that planet. He had spent part of his early career in the med center there, getting cybernetic limbs and other bits installed, after some botched ambushes.

He wriggled his foot, smiling at the comfort of his new boot. Checking his nav comp, he adjusted his heading toward a smaller planetoid nearby, a few hundred thousand kilometers distance. The moon, Rori, was not only his current home, and the latest front of the war between the Empire and the Republic, but this was also the last known location of his mark. Nee`kolai was determined to not lose this one. It had cost him more than he cared to admit. Not to mention, he would be filthy rich after this. But more importantly, after his botch up in Anchorhead, this was no longer a mission… it was a quest. He would see this through, to the end, and be victorious, if he had to kill every single damned person on Rori to do it.

Nee`kolai skillfully landed his ship at what was left of the Restuss starport. Not much more than a shuttleport with a few market vendors and a cloner, now. The city had mostly been destroyed in the intitial moments of the battle here.

He stepped out of his starship and glanced about. No one was really paying attention to him, which was how he liked it… at least when he was working. He pulled off his backpack and withdrew a small seeker droid. Entering the biosignature into its core memory, Nee`kolai released the tiny droid and watched it dart away, towards the city. A moment later, his datapad was all abuzz with information on the mark and his exact position. His bounty was nestled right in the center of Restuss. Nee`kolai expanded his comm-radar to one thousand meters and brought the city into view, along with three or four dozen red blotches… Republic patrols. His prey was in their midst.

“Fek.”

Shouldering his pack once more, Nee`kolai fetched his small speeder and shot off toward the ruins. He circled wide, looking for a spot he might be able to sneak in but was having no luck. Three times he made his pass until luck finally reared its pretty face. An imperial raiding party had been formed and was inbound not but two hundred meters from him. In seconds, he was dismounted and marching with them, twenty strong, and he recognized several of the Empire’s finest special forces among the band. Confident, he entered Restuss with his meaty trooper shield surrounding him.

It took mere minutes for the Republic troopers to realize they were being infiltrated and mount a counter-assault. Blaster fire rained upon them like a locust plague. Imperials were diving every which way, seeking cover and lobbing grenades. One Imperial was on his comm, screaming for reinforcements, but was abruptly cut off as a lightsaber plunged through his skull in a sickly searing manner, leaving the distinct burning scent of flesh and hair wafting through the air.

The Republic troopers engaged the Imperials, face to face, in close combat. Nee`kolai’s mark was among them. The bounty hunter targeted him and him alone, locking in his auto-target and auto-fire, letting him have it. In a matter of moments, his prey was down. Nee`kolai donned a wolfish smile as he moved closer for the killing blow.

He stopped short, however, as he suddenly noticed all was silent. Peering about, he saw every Imperial soldier had fallen, and nearly every Republic trooper, as well as several Jedi, stood, in a semi-circle, surrounding Nee`kolai, with victorious smiles parked upon their faces.

“Fek.”

Nee`kolai dropped two snares right on his position and bolted for it. He flipped on his auto-return fire option and ran like hell, darting in and out of rubble, taking ferocious shots to his backside, but none bad enough to pierce his armor and slow him down… yet. Around and around they swarmed, following close on his heels, like razor cats hot on a scent, but not quite catching up to him. The debris was too tight and twisting for the Jedi to use the force to run after him, and they could not quite get a clear shot to snare him, so he simply kept dropping snares to slow them, and in a few more seconds, they were well behind. He had gained some distance in the labyrinth of crumbling stone and broken homes.

Thank the Emperor for that, he thought.

As he sprinted through the battle torn streets, lithely hurdling blackened debris left behind by walls that no longer stood erect, he rounded a particularly large crumbling foundation corner and skidded to a halt. A feral grin crept across his dust and soot smeared face. Lying prone, not ten meters away, was the incapacitated form of his prey. Nee`kolai took note of the large mob of Republic troops still in pursuit, and closing on him. But he had enough time to squeeze off a killing shot and still lose his assailants in the hills beyond the city. It would be simple. The city was like a maze now. He would easily give them the slip and sneak into the wild beyond. Just one shot …and he was a very rich man, indeed. Finally, luck was on His side.

Nee`kolai took swift, but careful aim, smiled widely, and squeezed the trigger.

CLICK!

He paled and swiftly checked his weapon. He hadn’t noticed until now that his carbine’s power cell was drained. Nee`kolai hung his head, and sighed one final time, as the mob caught up to him.

 

“…fek.”

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By Mac

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