Blood Sport Season Four: Dark DwellerBlood Sport Season Four: Dark DwellerBlood Sport Season Four: Dark Dweller by Irken-Risk
He or she who treads the edge of the Deep takes it unto themselves to bear the burden of shedding blood so that others may live in peace. For the sake of others they shall cast themselves far from the warmth and light and do battle with the terrors who lay beyond the threshold and plunge into the abyss itself. – Tharol C’eval, the First Dark Dweller
Medinae, Unknown Regions
The Infarai had built homes across many worlds that were unknown to the universe at large. They mainly consisted of small farming settlements and larger structures built on the ocean floor. Deep beneath the violent and foaming waters of what had been called the Emerald Sea one of these colonies was spread out over several thousand yards and reached hundreds of meters beneath the ocean floor, allowing for thousands of the amphibious recluse to live comfortably. In the council chambers resting at the top of the largest s
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in the Dark
The Syndicate and the Raiders have suffered a defeat at the hands of the Irken Empire, and their leaders have lost a close friend to Tallest Candidate Blue. While Wrath has chosen to forgo pursuing to rescue Donthar to avoid putting the now enslaved Vortian at risk he refuses to allow this offence to pass without punishment. To this end he dispatches an assassin to execute a revenge hit against one of those responsible for the events that had occurred so that the Empire will know just how far his reach extends.
Three months after the events of ‘Hell in a Hand Basket’
Irk, Capital District
Irk was a planet that never slept. At every moment of the day if there weren’t tens of millions of vehicles clogging the skyline of the vast city-planet there would still be lights illuminating the streets below, floating bill boards advertising some new service or even patrolling military ships-and there were a lot of those. Because of this Bizz had to sleep the same way every other resident of Irk did: with their windows blocked off by special shutters which plunged her apartment into pure darkness. This only made it harder for the lone occupant to fumble around in the darkness for her communicator when it went off, rousing the Irken from her slumber. Even as she grasped the device Bizz shrank back under her covers, pulling them tightly around her against the brisk cool air which was generated from her setting the temperature settings to low-another necessity for comfort, given how much heat could accumulate in the average structure.
“Good morning officer Bizz, your presence has been requested by,” A synthesized female voice began before changing into a familiar tone belonging to a certain snooty aristocrat, “Tallest Candidate Blue,” It then returned to its original voice, “At their personal estate regarding a failure in financial transaction to your account.”
“Say WHAT?!” Bizz bolted upright into a sitting position, scattering the heavy covers around the bed as she held the communicator up to her mouth. “What kind of crap is this?!”
The synthesized voice continued on pleasantly, “In the event of outraged and indignant screaming, we here at the Irken Ministry of Pre-Recorded Communications remind you that this is a semi-interactive recorded message and not the source of your anger.” It informed her, “Remember: don’t shoot the messenger!”
Beyond words by this point, the irritated woman flung the communicator against the wall so hard it shattered and climbed out of bed. She had only returned from a mission several hours ago, a mission which had lasted an entire week and had placed her in the dense jungles of some border world where Teivol had dragged her on his usual manhunt for the Raiders. It was for this exact assignment that she was supposed to receive another healthy amount of credits from Teivol’s husband that would go towards the money she still owed for this very apartment. To hear this inconvenient strawberry being placed on top of a mess of stress and fatigue was just about the straw that broke the camel’s back for Bizz.
She quickly changed into her uniform and remotely called her sky car to her as she stepped out onto the apartment’s personal landing pad. In under three minutes after receiving the automated call she was in the air and on her way towards the palace. Glaring lights and the enduring loud noise of countless vehicles on all sides caused Bizz’s headache to kick back in, leading to her shutting the roof and setting her car to automatic pilot while she laid back and rubbed circles into her temples with her fingertips.
Sometimes Bizz wondered if it was still worth it all, working for Blue and Teivol. After they had gone and lost the prisoner she had delivered to them, almost literally gift wrapped with the amount of restraints that had been clapped on her by the time Bizz had delivered her, Bizz had found herself being cheated of a promised reward simply because a bunch of guards had been too incompetent to transport one comatose woman a few thousand miles. She had been about ready to declare herself defective before Blue had come forward with an offer: work for them full time and he would handle paying her wage, which was a good deal higher than what she usually made. For every mission she received a huge bonus which had gone in to paying for her new apartment, the car and many other luxuries to numb the pain of how annoying her employers could be at times.
Speaking of which...the ride had passed faster than expected, she was already pulling into the palace hangar where her vehicle was automatically checked off as it landed. Bizz climbed out and took a deep breath as she made her way past some wide awake security guards who likely had had twice as long to sleep as her- a fact which caused her to fling mental curses at everybody she passed on her way to the room here she knew she would find the two walking hormone sacs she called her employers: their ‘secondary’ bedroom, one they used for their more intimate activities while their main one was at least child friendly-as it turned out one of them had somehow morphed into a woman and been knocked up in short order and now they were taking steps to ‘smeet proof’ some of the rooms in preparation of their little abomination.
Bizz reached the double doors and knocked three times, waited a few moments and then banged on it furiously.
“Hey now, what are you doing?” A voice caught her attention, leading Bizz to look over her shoulder at a patrol of guards who had spotted her.
After she quickly flashed her ID badge, which marked her as one of Teivol’s personal security team, Bizz explained herself. “I received a summons from Tallest Candidate Blue. He’s ordered me here to work out some problem with a payment to my account that bounced.”
The guards exchanged a few looks before Bizz produced her personal data pad and showed them a recording of the call she had received earlier along with a time stamp on it.
“It sounds legit,” One of them commented, “But we have one problem.”
Bizz groaned and one hand on her head to brace for her latest road block. “What’s that?” She asked in despair.
The guard leader opened his mouth to answer, but was cut off by a sudden noise coming from within the room beyond. It had been the sound of a solid object hitting the floor with a loud ‘thud’. Immediately the entire patrol raised their weapons while one of the soldiers pulled Bizz out of the way.
“Blue and Commander Teivol aren’t due back for three more hours from their trip.” The leader said grimly as his men took up positions on either side of the door. “Call for reinforcements, we might have a breach.”
Most would consider this jumping the gun, but Teivol had been insistent that the palace remain at the highest level of security short of being on full alert even in the absence of its most important occupants.
One of the guards reached for his radio only to receive static. “Sir, I can’t get through.” He informed the Irken Sergeant.
“Then start running to the nearest security station and inform them of our potential situation,” The Sergeant responded and then signalled to two of his men with a one handed gesture for them to open the doors. “And make it snappy.”
Bizz took several steps back as the squad, which consisted of five soldiers now that one of their number had raced away to seek help began to lift the numerous security locks on the door. While they worked she moved into position next to their Sergeant and pulled her sidearm from her PAK.
“We can handle anything that might be in there,” The Sergeant said without looking her way.
“And whatever might be in there might be something that I would have walked in on if you hadn’t come along when you did.” Bizz countered, keeping her blaster levelled at the door. “So shut up and open it already.”
The two soldiers handling the locks stepped away as the final locks opened, and the door slid open with a hiss of pressurized air escaping. The room within was large, lavish, truly fit for a king...and while the bed might look clean and spotless Bizz doubted that she could be paid a fortune to even sit on it, knowing what Blue and Teivol could be up to in here every night that they weren’t out or separated for any span of time. The chamber itself appeared untouched, with every window sealed and covered by a security field the way it should be and the interior scanners active until one of the soldiers tapped a code into the security control panel to deactivate the more...deadly security devices in the room that wouldn’t discriminate between intruders and guardsmen.
“No heat signatures,” One soldier spoke up.
“Negative on electro-magnetic scanners.”
“Radiation scanners coming up at zilch.”
They were using every form of visual and non-visual sensor that was available to them, seeking any type of stealth device or hidden form that could be concealed within the room, but nothing came up even though they had heard a noise from within the room moments ago.
They found their culprit after a moment, spotting it on the floor next to the bed. It was one of the automated cleaning droids, only this one had gone off its pre-set route through the room and knocked a lamp off of the night stand. The droid was repeatedly bumping into the table now, and only stopped when one of the soldiers manually shut it down.
“Well great, a tech fucks up in maintaining the inventory and we get a jump scare for it.” The Sergeant grumbled as he and the other five Irkens relaxed, not realizing that a form had dropped down behind them in the corridor outside. “Come on, let’s-”
The two blasters were muffled, but at this range it was easy to hear their discharges as two of the guards fell from one shot to the back of their heads from close range. Before any of the other Irkens could react the figure dropped the freshly fired weapons, shot forward and swung one leg out, sweeping a third soldier’s legs out from under him and then bringing a powerful elbow strike down into his midsection before the man had even begun his descent to the ground. The fourth soldier turned partway before his rifle was struck in the middle by a swift front kick which sent the weapon flying from the unprepared Irken’s grasp and was followed up by a palm strike to his throat which caused cartilage to collapse with a sound similar to a candy wrapper being squeezed as the soldier went down without another sound. The Sergeant and Bizz were the only ones fast enough to raised their weapons, but by the time they had brought them about the assailant had moved between them and wrapped one leather clad hand around the hilt of a sword hanging on their back.
In two swift movements the hooded assailant’s blade formed a figure eight Bizz’s blaster and the Sergeant’s rifle lost their forward halves, rendering both weapons useless. The Sergeant threw the remaining half of his rifle in an effort to buy himself a split second of precious time as his hands tried to unlock and pull his reserve blaster from his belt, but before his fingers could even begin fumbling for the locking mechanism on the holster the assailant knelt low and stabbed upwards. Their blade pierced the Sergeant’s blaster, his hands, and stabbed straight up into his vital organs as the blaster sputtered and emitted a trail of smoke while the assailant pulled his blade back. The Sergeant gave a choked gurgling noise before he collapsed to his knees and then fell forward onto the carpeted floor, never to rise again.
Bizz scrambled backwards, hands reaching for the weapon of any of the fallen soldiers around her. The person who had just singlehandedly massacred the entire squad was now in plain view, their head and upper body shrouded by a hooded poncho which masked any important features. It also complimented their tall and broad shouldered physique while dark leather clothing clung to what little of their lower torso could be seen along with a pair of firm and powerful legs.
Bizz found one discarded rifle and tried to tug it out from beneath its fallen former owner while the intruder strode towards her, using their free hand to clean blood off of the short, narrow sword they held. She managed to pry the weapon free and brought it up, but the hooded intruder flicked their sword wrist once and the world seemed to stop for Bizz. She blinked once, trying to comprehend the sudden feeling of...nothing...which spread throughout her body. Her view then became tilted as she felt over, her head coming to rest on its side...while her body flopped back down onto the floor next to it, its limbs twitching several times while Bizz’s brain realized that it along with her entire head had just been cleanly decapitated, and now began the process of shutting down as Bizz’s mouth and tongue moved like a suffocating fish out of water, emitting no noise of their own and drawing in no breaths as Bizz’s eyes rolled in their sockets.
When she finally ceased to be and darkness rushed in around her, the figure standing amidst the scene of the massacre finished cleaning his blade once again and slid it into the sheathe resting on his back. With his target now dispatched he had several things to do before reinforcements could arrived. First he knelt down by the headless corpse and set a small object down on the stomach area. He then placed his hands together and bowed his covered head, murmuring without producing any sound.
Nobody else would hear his muted speech, but in his own mind he could imagine every word perfectly down to the specific pronunciation and pacing.
From the dark which hugs the deep, I send these souls on their path, be it to the light which overhangs the deep or the void which prowls beneath the dark.
He heard distant shouting but paid it no mind. He had to finish this before he could depart.
May they find closure in their new kingdom, and may they forever dwell in the paradise or punishment which they have brought unto themselves by their own acts.
The man parted his hands and rested his right palm upon his chest.
And now...back to the edge of Darkness.
As he finished delivering his whispered speech he heard the sound of dozens of pounding footfalls from the corridor outside. He quickly reached beneath his poncho and lobbed an object at the nearest window. The device struck the security field and exploded, causing it to short out and giving the assassin just enough time to dive through and begin his plummet down towards the surface of one of the landing pads far below near the heart of the vast complex. Several guards spotted him as he flipped over in mid fall and somehow landed on his feet, seemingly unharmed.
What they did not see as the figure crouched was the unique fabric of his suit absorbing the kinetic energy of the impact, sparing his skeletal structure where others might have died on contact with the ground. As he stood back up they managed to snap out of their shocked state and take aim, but the assassin had already dashed to the side as energy bolts sprayed the general area of the trail he followed. He ducked behind a parked transport and shut his eyes, one hand grasping the hilt of a dagger hidden by the folds of his poncho.
No, not yet.
He released the hilt and instead scrambled up the side of the vessel as the three guards began to move around either side to flank him. Just as one reached the corner he was snatched from above and quickly silence with a twist of his neck while his rifle was snatched from his limp hands, allowing his body to fall silently. The other two rounded their side of the ship and looked around, finding nowhere for their prey to go but...up...
A spray of plasma bolts rained down on them, burning through their armour and the flesh beneath as the assassin leapt from the roof of the transport. He dropped the rifle as he landed and then continued on towards his evac point as alarms wailed throughout the palace, which as now being sent on lockdown. The assassin moved through the landing area for cargo ships towards the edge of the palace, reaching a series of exposed landing platforms which overlooked a several thousand meter drop to the lowest streets of the city below. From here he could see numerous towers that surrounded the gargantuan palace, all of them a monument to the over bloated pride of the Empire and likely housing the elite who could afford to live in this district...like the woman he had just murdered without even blinking.
Despite the warning a single plasma bolt slammed into the assassin’s shoulder, causing his poncho to catch fire as a pained grunt escaped him soundlessly. He spun around and threw a knife right between his attacker’s eyes at the same time before tearing the burning cloak away. He tossed the garment aside and backed towards the edge of the platform as other guards swarmed into view.
They now had a view of the intruder...
He was an Irken of darker skin colour than most, and his antennae were facing forward and tilted down, framing his face and green eyes. His attire was all dark with black and brown intermixing.
“Hold your fire! We’ve got him cornered.” An officer called out, waving his men down. “There’s nowhere left to go, traitor...now put your hands up and make things easy on yourself by telling me who sent you.”
The Irken gave a slight smile only identifiable by his lips expanding ever so slightly and slowly raised his hands up. When a sudden white light formed around his left arm the officer had to bark at his men to hold their fire again when many of them tensed. It was some sort of holographic interface that had appeared, encircling the man’s entire forearm and hand like some gauntlet of pure light.
The Irken pressed one thumb to his palm, causing a holographic button to light up before a recording was played for all to hear.
“You cannot betray that which you never followed, and I have never followed your decadent Empire.”
The officer frowned at the long winded insult. “Look around defective...you’re on the world where your ancestors crawled out of the mud. You’re among your people...and you’ve chosen to kill one of your people. All Irkens come back here eventually...it’s just your type who come here to harm our empire.” He waved two of his men forward. “Take him in, we’ll get all the information we need the hard way, and I imagine that Commander Teivol will want to be present for this seeing as it was one of his personal escorts who was killed.”
As the two soldiers approached the Irken, he took another step back towards the edge. The rest of the squad took aim again.
“What’s your plan, defective?” The officer inquired, looking amused. “You’re going to jump to your death? Go out in one last act of defiance? Did your masters encourage this decision? I bet they’d have just killed you anyways.” He walked towards the assassin. “Now stop this foolishness...there’s nothing to be gained in stepping off the ledge.”
The Irken’s smile grew a bit, and this time his index finger tapped another holographic button located on his palm to trigger a second pre-recorded statement.
“You Imperials...you talk too much.”
And then he took one final step back and tipped backwards.
“No!” The officer lunged forward and almost managed to grab a fistful of the assassin’s coat before they vanished from sight. He scrambled over to the ledge and looked down, only seeing the streets far below with no sign of the assassin...however there were no suitable handholds to grab onto anywhere on the edges of the platform. There was no possible way that the assassin could have survived a fall like that, and there were no hiding place along the outer wall of the palace.
The officer slowly stood up and turned away, groaning. “Irk damn it...Lady Blue and Commander Teivol are not going to like this at all.” He said, more to himself than to his men.
If he had remained behind for several more moments, he would have seen the assassin’s figure slowly fade into view, latched onto the side of the palace. The assassin glanced up as his stealth generator failed. In return for avoiding creating a distortion in the light spectrum which could give away all but the most careful infiltrator the device had a short life span and took several minutes to recharge between uses. If the officer had remained in his position for another ten seconds he would have spotted the Irken.
Peeling one hand away from the outer wall, the Irken conjured his holo-interface again and tapped a button to transmit a message indicating that his mission was accomplished. Within a minute a small ship flew up, not stopping even as the assassin released the wall and landed on the craft’s wing where he latched on before it pulled away from the palace. Even as external sensors picked up the departing ship it already vanished into the seemingly endless traffic.
The assassin crawled over to the canopy and opened it, allowing him to climb down into a seat that was light years ahead of sitting on a wall or the wing of the ship in terms of comfort. He buckled in and let the auto pilot take care of everything as he left the palace far behind him. Up ahead the sun was beginning to peak over the horizon and illuminate the skyline. This prompted the Irken to pull up his jacket’s regular hood and cover his upper face from the glaring light as he relaxed in his seat to take a nap in the relative comfort of the personal fighter, which blocked out almost all sound.
After spending weeks observing the palace and tireless hours repeatedly testing the defences every day he could put this assignment to rest. This one had taken much longer than usual due to the sheer amount of security that the palace had around the clock, but once he’d found a pattern to exploit Rush had no trouble positioning himself. He had timed everything perfectly, sending out a false transmission to Bizz to lure her to the palace. When she had arrived he made his final infiltration and waited for her to be in position.
The arrival of the guard squadron had complicated things, but they had been easily dealt with and the rest of the mission had gone according to plan.
“Come in Rush, come in.” A voice disturbed him before he could doze off.
The assassin, Rush, tapped a button on his holo-interface which sent an affirmative response to the caller.
“We received your signal, your escape ship will be waiting for you at the designated coordinates.” The caller said, “And Rush...thank you for doing this.”
Rush cracked a smile beneath his hood and shrugged his shoulders before tilting his head up enough to look at the ten inch tall holographic image that had just appeared on his main console. The helmet clad face of the Wrath of Irk stared back at the mute assassin.
“I have a feeling that you definitely have a place in the Syndicate,” Wrath continued, “Consider yourself hired and placed on my list of top ten preferred assassins.”
Several hours later
Palace of Tallest Candidate Blue
“What...what the hell is this?!”
Tallest Candidate Blue had to hold back from throwing up her dinner as she raised her cape up to cover her face to block out the stench of blood which permeated the air of her and Teivol’s second bedroom. Around her numerous guards and investigators were scanning the room for evidence with assistance from floating drones.
“I tried to warn you not to come in, my lady.” The highest ranking officer present sighed. “We don’t know how the intruder managed to get inside the palace, but he got past every layer of sensors and patrols that we set up.”
Blue tore her gaze away from the sight of Bizz’s corpse, from the sight of her head laying on the carpet and staring up with blank eyes.
She quickly composed herself, lowering her cape back down and swallowing once. She then looked at the officer and inquired. “What was the time of death?”
“Approximately four hours and thirty minutes ago my Tallest, and it had been discovered moments after the act.” He responded, “The assassin was chased to the edge of the palace before he jumped off, and he is currently presumed to be deceased but we can’t find his body anywhere in the lower streets.”
“Then he isn’t dead,” Blue said sternly, “Double your search, and increase the watch throughout the palace. If this had happened while I was here I could have been killed!”
“About that...the assassin left something here, my lady.” The officer informed her, showing Blue a small data card that had been found on Bizz’s stomach. “It’s addressed to you.”
Blue took the card and examined it, seeing her name written on one side. On the other side were the words ‘From Wrath’.
So, her nephew was behind this! She was just lucky that she and Teivol had been out when this had happened or it might have been her head on the chopping block.
But that didn’t explain why Bizz was here...it had been her night off.
“Why was Lieutenant Bizz here?” Blue asked, taking a step out of the room to breathe in some fresh air.
The officer followed after her. “The surviving guard explained that she claimed to have been summoned by you to discuss a problem with her last payment. The Sergeant in charge of the squad realized something was wrong and chose to investigate...the assassin had been hidden outside the room and struck only once they were all inside.”
Bizz...why would Risk have Bizz killed? She was just a regular officer-
No...she was more than that. She had been hired after the incident which had given Blue and Teivol their newest slave, the black skinned Vortian. Bizz had delivered Zef to them on a silver platter...
“Carry on,” Blue whispered before rushing to her regular quarters where she sat down and inserted the data card into a computer at her desk.
A holographic recording was played, showing the armored form of her nephew staring back at her.
“Hello Lord-or is it Lady Blue now?” Wrath asked. “As you know, your security guard is dead. She died for the actions she committed against a good friend of mine, you know which one that I speak of. When we last spoke...you mocked me with your perceived victory, the insult you had levelled against the entire Syndicate by abducting and enslaving people who I have sworn to protect...well now I have seen fit to remind you and your empire that your days are growing shorter.”
Wrath crossed his arms. “Let me warn you now, Blue...I know you kept Donthar as a way to spite both myself and Zef, and it is for his sake that this mission was carried out specifically when you were absent. If I wanted to, if I worked hard enough and sacrificed enough...I could see you and your mate dead, but you would be easily replaced by the Empire within a few short weeks. This mission was a reminder...and a warning of the price to be paid when you harm those under the protection of the Syndicate...under MY protection. Now go back to ruling your precious world...for however long you have left.”
The message ended, and Blue released a shuddering breath as she wrapped her arms around her own stomach, feeling the slight bump.
Her nephew had gotten his point across quite clearly...and for the safety of herself, Teivol and their child she would have to be careful in dealing with him in the future. Their blood relation had kept them both from going all out against one another to some extent, but she could see these days coming to a close. The Syndicate was now officially at the top of her list of threats, and it had been given years to grow in power until it was capable of striking within the safety of his own home.
The Syndicate...had to be destroyed.
Her nephew, Risk, needed to die.
THE DARK DWELLER
In the culture of the Infarai the Dark Dweller is one part assassin and one part guardian, with one serving every Infarai colony with a population larger than ten thousand. As a result there are potentially thousands of Dark Dwellers in the known universe, many of them are not even Infarai anymore, with adopted aliens being granted the position based on their merits. Each is issued an offer which may be turned down without the individual being shamed, but those who accept it are praised for their bravery before being sent off for several years of intense training.
The Dark Dweller is, in Infarai myth, one who chooses to forsake living in the Deep (equal to a paradise for the living) who chooses to wander on the edge between the Deep and the Dark (equal to anywhere beyond the borders of Infarai Civilization, such as a wilderness or enemy territory). It is their duty to seek out and locate threats to their appointed colony or other colonies and either turn them away peacefully or, if necessary, eliminate them and send their souls off to the Void (Analogous of Hell in numerous cultures) or to the Light (Analogous to Heaven). Some Dark Dwellers have taken to accepting jobs as paid assassins in order to establish ties with factions across the universe, but none have yet to work for the Irken Empire, seeing it as the greatest threat to the Infarai yet.
The original Dark Dwellers were presumably a class of warrior dating back to the Infarai’s original home world and were primarily used in defending undersea settlements against aggressive species of aquatic predators that originated from ‘The Dark’ (a depth of sea level which the Infarai were either unsuited for traversing or avoided due to it being the natural habitat of their potential natural predators). These Dark Dwellers would have been faced with the idea of a constant threat and as such would have required a grand commitment and amount of training in order to maintain protection of their settlement to protect against species both larger and more numerous.
On an interesting note, Rush is among the first non-Infarai Dark Dwellers.
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Resisty Uprising: Round One
Rimak vs Arthur
In the brief instant that it took for Rimak’s atoms to be whisked across the surface of this barren world and reformed on some distant patch of ground the Irken swore that by the end of this he would see Lard-Nar dead. Others would call for the Vortian to be brought to justice, some would insist that he be allowed to rot in some cell where he could suffer a lifetime away from the warmth of the sun.
Rimak was just going to blow the goat’s brains out and wash his hands of this horrible memory.
The moment that the Irken had set his boots on the metallic disc and heard Lard-Nar’s snide little voice mocking him with one last message he was tempted to just go for his gun and damn any consequences; only the thought of Aayan kept him from acting so impulsively, Aayan and the smeet who would grow up without a father if Rimak tried anything. A moment later, fortunately long before Rimak could reconsider his decision he vanished in a pillar of blue energy that enveloped him before speeding him away. The journey lasted the span of an eye blink and ended with Rimak appearing amidst a blue glow hundreds of miles from the source of all his anger.
The Irken blinked several times to clear his vision and tapped the side of his head. The device fixed to his temple let out a barely audible beeping noise before a red tinted holo-visor appeared over Rimak’s eyes. As the blurred background cleared up he saw the dark spherical silhouette of his designated camera drone floating around in front of him.
Rimak growled irritably, “Scat!” He swatted the drone to the ground.
“Um...OW! The hell?!” The drone demanded as it floated back up to head level. “Seriously, what the actual hell?”
“What part of ‘scat’ didn’t get to those audio processors?” Rimak countered with a question of his own as he took in the view of his destination.
Rimak had been deposited in the middle of what looked like a suburban neighbourhood. Most of the structures close by were no higher than two stories, wrecked vehicles dotted the cracked roads and plant life had been given time to grow enough that it was overwhelming the remnants of whatever society had once called this region home. Each structure was in a state of disrepair, few windows were even left intact and even fewer buildings looked like they had many days left in them before a slight breeze would knock them over. It had an almost eerie atmosphere to it, imagining the families that may have once called this suburb home, the children who played on the toys left abandoned on the sidewalk or in the middle of the road.
The climate was sunny, fairly cool, light breeze. If he had to guess he was close to an ocean, perhaps less than a mile. It would have been nice to explore...if it didn’t look like it had just been the sight of some wartime evacuation.
“Great, so he even chose a second hand planet fer his lil’ blood sport rip off.” Rimak drawled, shaking his head in disapproval before glancing over his shoulder and wagging a finger at the drone. “Your boss is not doing a great deal to inspire fear in anyone over the age of thirteen.”
“Seeing as he got out of prison and you’re on a death show, I wouldn’t be laughing.” The drone huffed turning away.
“Seein’ as he’s ridin’ bitch to a giant computer squid I’d say that I’ll have plenty to laugh about after this is over.” Rimak replied before crouching and engaging his Jet PAK, shooting into the air so he could land on the roof of a structure that appeared relatively stable and get a good view of the neighbourhood.
The drone followed after him, still keeping its distance in case his talkative mood quickly expired while it exchanged dialogue with him. “At least your confidence is still up.”
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Rimak asked while scanning the local terrain, spotting taller buildings in the distance and the tops of large trees in the opposite direction indicating the edge of a forest, and off to the side he could see the blue of an ocean (at this he made a mental note: called it!). “I intend to win this’n do what his previous victims were too inept or injured to do after the whole galaxy got to watch the Tallests play pin ball with his ship.”
“You’re seriously spouting threats when the guy can hear you?” The drone inquired, tilting its spherical body in the universal sign of curiosity that usually required a head and neck to do. “What’s to stop him from just poisoning the food he sends you or blasting you from orbit?”
“The fact that he wants to watch us kill each other, and that his boss won’t be happy if he goes tamperin’ with the competition.” Rimak responded before leaping from the edge of the roof, igniting his jets just enough to slow his descent before he landed on the cracked road below. “So unless I’m given reason to think things are changin’ I’ll just uh...” He gestured with one hand. “Keep preachin’ about how amazingly incompetent he’d be without that control brain holdin’ his hand the whole way.”
“Fair enough,” The drone simulated a sigh, “It’s not my life on the line. Heck, I only became self aware like five minutes ago anyways and you’ve done a hell of a job making this life look like it’s worth staying in!”
Rimak knew that it would be his luck to be paired with a drone that turned out to be suicidal. Putting aside the dialogue, which admittedly helped to lighten the atmosphere after his less than elegant delivery to this shit hole of a planet, he thought back to everything he remembered about the previous season of Lard-Nar’s show and what had carried over. Rimak had preferred not to watch it, not because he had found it to be disgraceful but because he had been busy spending a very pleasant vacation with Aayan and had decided that there was no use in worrying over something he couldn’t help with.
“Say,” Rimak turned around, walking backwards to keep up his course as he addressed the drone, “You have info on who my opponent is, right?”
“And he remembers!” The drone tilted itself upward and looked to the sky. “Hallelujah! Yes, I have the necessary information to identify your opponent.”
Rimak gestured with one hand for the drone to speed it up.
“Okay, okay!” Its central eye glowed and projected a three dimensional hologram that began as a silhouette before taking on a more detailed form. “Your opponent just got paired up with you now. His name is Arthur.”
Arthur...that was an oddly human name, based on what Rimak knew of the species through Aayan’s father, who was not exactly the best representative or example to hold an entire race to. What made this more confusing was that this wasn’t even a hybrid, but a simple blue eyed Irken wearing a pair of boots, blue pants, purple shirt with black sleeves and a scarf or cloth of some kind wrapped around his neck.
When Arthur’s basic information was displayed next to the image Rimak paused in mid step as his eyes fell on the age.
He was fighting a fifteen year old boy.
After a moment of staring and pondering this new information Rimak shrugged his shoulders and tilted the brim of his hat down at the front to cover his face. He shook his head and murmured, “Can’t say that surprises me too much.”
It had been obvious from the start that Rimak would have to kill a few people far before their time when he woke up in Lard-Nar’s custody. For most others this might pose a moral dilemma, leaving them conflicted with the thought of shooting down a young boy in cold blood to save themselves. Some more altruistic individuals might even consider letting him win or offing themselves for his sake.
For Rimak however, this was just going to be one more lamentable but necessary act of survival. When choosing between a stranger and reuniting with his mate long enough to see his smeet born there was no contest. He would take no pleasure in what had to be done, but the most he could afford would be to make Arthur’s passing quick and painless.
“Assumin’ this kid is in the vicinity and yer boss didn’t fuck that part up,” Rimak turned so he was walking forward again, heading towards the taller sky scrapers near the heart of the city, “I’ll try to make this as non-graphic as possible...ain’t anythin’ pretty in what’s goin’ to happen here today.”
The worst part of this situation was that this round wouldn’t even be a fair fight.
“Oh man that kid is going to curse the gods that let him be born by the time this is over,” The drone chuckled as it followed Rimak, “No, seriously, this is so one sided that it’s almost going to be sad to watch...almost.”
One of the things that Arthur regretted the most was that he had felt pity for the psychotic Vortian known as Lard-Nar. In the span of a single minute his life had gone from being uneventful and somewhat decent to an absolute nightmare, and it was still hard to process this fact as the boy sat down in the middle of what looked like a park, using the edge of a long dried up fountain for support as he took several deep breaths.
“This is happening,” Arthur whispered, gripping the fabric of his shirt with one hand. “This is really happening!”
“Said the annoying meat bag for the tenth time.” Arthur’s designated camera drone groaned as it floated by, rolling sideways as it went. “Seriously kid, the audiences all get it: you’re screwed. Now are you going to sit here and wait for your opponent to find you or are you actually going to do something?”
Arthur’s eyes shot up towards the drone; the boy only seemed to have remembered its presence at that moment.
“S-something?” Arthur stood up, trying to remain as calm as he could. “Like what?”
“ANYTHING THAT ISN’T THIS!” The drone shouted, getting in close to the boy’s face and causing Arthur to yelp and fall over. “Seriously, that dumb goat should have at least had his thugs target some real fighters! Now I’m stuck with a complete basket case.”
Arthur frowned and stood back up. “Hey!” He snapped, reaching up and plucking the drone out of the air with one hand. “I have every reason to be terrified right now! Some psychopath just kidnapped me and forced me into a life or death situation! The last thing I want or need is some uppity drone shouting at me!” He released it and fixed the drone with a glare while crossing his arms. “Besides, I’m not even a soldier! How am I expected to kill, much less fight?”
“Well I’m sorry to tell you Sappy von Chicken Pants, but this is the law of the jungle now.” The drone drawled, drawing Arthur’s attention to the surrounding environment by zipping around. It gestured to the wrecked playground equipment, the overgrown weeds sprouting up through the cracks and the crumbling structures lining the edge of the park. “You may have been an engineer back with the Irken Empire, but your leaders have been captured and you’re a long way from any friendly faces. You don’t have time to focus on what you used to be, you need to focus on what you are now,” It settled back into place in front of Arthur, “A survivor, and a survivor does what they need to or they die so other survivors can do what they need to in order to keep alive. And believe me kiddo, there are a lot of survivors here who won’t be as hesitant to kill you.”
Arthur seemed to deflate under this lecture, his anger replaced by despair as he found himself agreeing with everything the drone said. “So I...I don’t have any choice,” He murmured, “I have to kill someone.”
“Not just someone, kiddo.” The drone projected an image out of its eyes, forming the image of a familiar outlaw who was known through quite a few systems in the Empire. “You need to kill this guy.”
Arthur gaped at the image, recognizing it vaguely but not able to place a name to the face...
“Rimak Rikson,” The drone informed Arthur, “Bounty hunter, non-imperial aligned, and unlucky enough to be caught up in the rush back on Conventia. Dozens of confirmed kills on the job this year alone and upwards of a thousand in the last decade; and let me tell you a lot of those guys were the sort who would have prospered here. But hey, there’s a bright side to all of this.”
“R-really?” Arthur looked up hopefully.
“Yeah, Colonel Goat Face says that if you win he’ll send down a few extra snack cakes in the supply crate. Apparently this Rikson fellow has been bad mouthing him so much on live TV that his own bridge crew is having a hard time not laughing.” The drone responded while the image dissipated.
Arthur blanched, one eye twitching as he processed this so called silver lining.
“Hey, I said a bright side, not a secret cheat code to winning.” The drone tilted its spherical body. “Oh and by the way, he’s probably looking for you, so you might want to-”
A red flash of light off to the side drew Arthur’s attention and ended up saving his life, giving the boy enough of a heads up to throw himself to the side before a plasma bolt slammed into the fountain where he had been sitting moments ago. As a cloud of dust flew up Arthur turned onto his side and looked towards the source of the shot just as a much taller and older Irken man stepped into view. The wide brimmed hat, the long brown coat, the red holo-visor; everything matched the hologram image exactly!
“Should’a just let that one hit, boy.” Rimak said, already lining up another shot. “Could’ve ended before yah even knew what was happenin’.”
Arthur yelped and managed to scramble out of the way of a second shot, throwing himself over the edge of the fountain as Rimak’s second shot blasted away another section. The boy then rushed behind the larger statue occupying the center of the circle and moved around to the far side where he pressed himself against the stone surface and tried to keep himself from hyperventilating.
What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?! Arthur thought over and over in his head. He has a gun, he’s a crack shot-wait, I have a gun too! What am I doing?!
Arthur’s hands searched for the handle of his blaster, which rested in a compartment in his PAK. He found it and quickly pulled the weapon out as Rimak circled around on the right side. As the mercenary prepared to fire off a third shot Arthur leaped into the open and let loose with multiple energy shots, shouting as he strafed to the left and pelted Rimak’s position, forcing the older Irken to duck down as a shot nearly singed off his gun hand. Rimak knelt down and pressed his free hand to the outer side of the fountain wall to steady himself, keeping his gun at the ready as he listened for Arthur’s foot steps.
After unleashing a clean dozen rounds Arthur stopped and vaulted over the fountain wall again, making a break for the trees. He fired off several more shots over his shoulder before finally pulling himself behind the safety of a thick tree and sucking in a deep breath.
“How did I just survive that?” Arthur whispered. “Okay, gotta think, gotta think. He’s stronger than me, he’s faster, a better shot, what do I do?”
Arthur peered around the edge of his cover only to quickly pull back as a red tinted bolt of light shot past, burning away part of the trunk and setting fire to some bushes.
“Yipe!” Arthur squeaked before running further into the park where the trees appeared to grow larger and the underbrush grew thicker.
Behind him, Rimak sighed and checked the energy cell on his blaster before holstering the weapon.
“This just got more annoying than it should be.” The bounty hunter growled, taking off after his quarry.
Arthur kept running until he was fully certain that Rikson had lost sight of him. The boy collapsed against a large log and tried to catch his breath.
Barely got away. Need a new plan. Arthur glanced around and took in his new surroundings.
This part of the park seemed like he had just stepped into an entirely different world. The log he was leaning against was large enough that a car could go through it if it was hollow, there were vast winding roots large enough to walk on which reached up dozens of feet high, forming improvised walkways that were rife with hazards such as thorns and sharp ends of shattered branches.
Maybe....maybe I can try to take him by surprise? Shoot him from one of those big branches or drop a rock on him? Arthur tried climbing onto one of the large roots and found it to be surprisingly easy thanks to a wide availability of hand and foot holds. He was able to clamber up one of the twisting pathways until he was on a stable enough ground nearly thirty feet up before standing upright, carefully to make sure he didn’t lose his balance.
Okay...okay....I can do this. I just need to wait for him to walk right into the clearing and then I can just shoot him and be done with it. Arthur swallowed and pulled out his gun again, checking the power cell. Thirty shots left? Oh man, I wasted way too many back there. Need to make this one count.
Now that he no longer had the impending threat of a gun pointed at him Arthur found it a lot easier to think and act rationally. Rikson’s sudden and violent entrance had thrown Arthur off balance mentally and left him simply scrambling for cover, his life hanging by a thread and saved only by mere chance that one of his shots had forced the more experienced mercenary to duck down rather than make a killing shot. Now he could go about things more calmly, step by step. It was regrettable, but Arthur knew that Rikson was no stranger to killing and hadn’t been intent on giving him a chance...
But can I still go through with it? Arthur though, crouching on the bark. If I don’t, either he’ll kill me or we’ll both starve. I bet he knows that too...
“Well, gotta admit I’m surprised you survived that to begin with.”
Arthur almost jumped out of his skin, having forgotten about his drone. It had been silently bobbing by his shoulder ever since Rimak had made his first shot, and only now had chosen to speak up.
“That is what we call being ridiculously lucky,” The drone added, keeping its voice low. “Well that or your opponent was having an off day.”
Arthur sighed. “Do you really need to do this?” He asked.
“Do I? Nope. Do I need something to keep me from shutting myself down from boredom? Damn skippy.” The drone looked down. “So, what’s the big game plan for today?”
Arthur groaned, realizing that this thing wouldn’t pipe down until he satisfied it. “I’m just gonna wait until he comes into the clearing and then...well...”
“Shoot him?” The drone asked. “Simple, but classic. Most others would try to go the extra mile with some convoluted trap but I give you props for going with the basic route.” It moved around to his opposite shoulder. “Betcha five bucks it won’t work though.”
Arthur slapped it away, growing annoyed with it already. “Well I’d like to see you come up with something better. Besides, weren’t you the one going on about how I need to be a survivor and all that a few minutes ago?”
“Exactly, and survivors have better plans. If my software wasn’t locked I’d be able to tell you fifty of them, give or take, buuuut you’re on your own for this one kiddo.” The drone began to hum. “And the difference between now and earlier is that now I’m actually amused and now you aren’t just sitting around wetting yourself, which only improves things as far as I care.”
Arthur opened his mouth to issue a retort, but the sound of a branch snapping close by cause him to clamp his jaw shut and gesture for the drone to silence itself. He pressed himself down flat to conceal himself from view and held out his blaster, peering down the barrel to try and acquaint himself with properly lining it up with a target.
Another branch. Much closer than before.
Several moments of silence followed. Arthur began to shift uncomfortably from the adrenaline pumping through his veins mixed with the lack of activity. His whole body was set to spring up and take off for the hills at a moment’s notice and the slightest noise or act would set him off.
Another stick snapped...right below him. Arthur froze up and slowly peeked over the edge, spotting the stick lying in the middle of the leaf covered ground but with no sign of Rimak or any other life-and he recalled Lard-Nar mentioning ridding this planet of any life that could potentially be used for nutrition, so either there was an animal out here that would be toxic to try consuming or Rimak was much closer than he seemed.
When he felt the root shift a bit beneath him as an additional weight was added, Arthur realized it was definitely the latter.
Spinning around, Arthur fired off one shot only for it to go wide as Rimak forced his blaster up and to the side with one hand. The bounty hunter drew one of his own guns out in the same motion, but before he could even bring it to bear on Arthur’s head the boy kicked out desperately and struck the older Irken in the leg, causing him to lose his balance and giving Arthur a chance to kick him off of the root entirely. This bought him only a few seconds of respite, as Rimak had reached out and grabbed onto a handhold on the side of the root and quickly pulled himself back up just in time for Arthur to bring his gun up while Rimak did the same.
They both went rigid, their bodies locking up as they focused on the hole at the end of the other’s weapon. Rimak was only half back on the root, he had raised one leg up and used it to help pull himself up enough to remain balanced with the gun in hand while his other leg was left dangling. Even in this less than ideal stance he could still nail Arthur if he had been ten times as far from him.
Rimak examined Arthur, noting the accelerated breathing and shaking arms. “Yah think yah can do this a few more times, boy?” He demanded, “Yah think yah’ve got the balls and the wind to live out this tournament? Yah know Lard-Nar took a lot’o people more eager than me, and yah know they won’t try givin’ yah a quick end like I’ve been tryin’ to do for this whole fight. So tell me...yah think you can even pull that trigger?”
Arthur was already on the verge of hyperventilating, and Rimak’s words did nothing to help the poor boy even as he realized the truth in them. He was barely holding it together in this round alone, so how could he hope to keep going against people probably just as dangerous as the man before him? But that was where his choices ended: fight or die. There was no other way out. He had no choice but to deal with it.
Sucking in a breath, Arthur squeezed his eyes shut and exhumed a bellow to try and drown out the sound of his blaster discharging when he squeezed the trigger. He felt the gun kick in his hands, unleashing bolt after bolt of pure heat and death without any effort to even aim-though his target was only a few feet away, so at least one was bound to hit home. Even with his piercing cry Arthur could still hear the explosion of energy erupting from his weapon until it finally ran dry, the power cell drained and empty.
Only when his gun emitted a noise to indicate that it was drained and required recharging did he dare to open his eyes. The spot where Rimak had been hanging was unoccupied and scorched black, some parts of the root were emitting a thin pillar of smoke and others were even beginning to catch fire.
Arthur stood up, the now useless blaster still in his grasp, and walked towards the charred edge of the root while being careful to maintain his footing. When he peered down again he saw the same thing as before: nothing but leaves and a shattered branch.
The boy began to look around, his pulse racing frantically again. “What-where-” He whimpered before hearing the sound of a crunch at his feet. He looked down just as the edge of the root where his blasts had scorched the bark until it was black and brittle broke away, shattering under his weight and sending him tumbling forward with a scream. The fall was not high enough to be fatal, but when he slammed down it was still a bad one.
Bones snapped, tendons tore, blood ran free. Arthur was consumed by a world of nausea and pain, unaware that he’d broken one of his arms and had managed to fracture his skull against a rock that he’d hit when he landed. Every movement only ignited a sensation of pure agony, and his vision was a dark haze with a bit of clarity near its center. He was vaguely aware of a figure hanging from the underside of the root which he had been using as a perch, of the noise it made when its boot clad feet hit the ground and how its legs bent to absorb the shock of the same fall that Arthur had just taken. What he wasn’t aware of was the fact that he couldn’t feel his legs, too focused on the pain in his upper body and head.
Rimak stood up and sighed as he took in the sight of Arthur’s broken and battered body. The boy’s right arm was bent at an unnatural angle along with his left leg, his left eye was swollen shut and the right was fluttering as he struggled to draw in his next breath.
The sight only made Rimak regret what he was about to do, but it also brought a sense of comfort that he wouldn’t be leaving Arthur to suffer. “Sorry boy,” Rimak said while shaking his head and drawing his blaster again, “Maybe yah do deserve t’live through all’o this, someone young as you.”
The bounty hunter levelled his blaster at Arthur’s head. “But I deserve it more,” He announced, his voice cold and expression empty as he squeezed one finger and put just enough pressure on the trigger.
This time he didn’t miss.
“Just be happy that yah got it quick,” Rimak concluded his speech as he holstered his blaster.
At first he made to remove himself from the site, but forced himself to stop and take off his hat, holding it to his chest as he knelt by Arthur’s corpse in a moment of silence with his head bowed.
This moment was unfortunately shattered by the rejoicing of a particular camera drone, which was spinning around wildly as it seemed to dance over Arthur’s body.
“Oh yeah! Oh yeah! I got the bad ass! I got the bad ass!” It sang, “Oh you showed that brat who he was messing with! This is exactly what I wanted to see!” It lowered itself down and got a close up of Arthur’s cranium where a single hole was burnt between his eyes. “And such a clean kill too! Oh man Rikson, you may have a big mouth but you sure know how to deliver the-”
The drone was sent to the ground as a pile of burning scrap by a second shot. Rimak glared at the wreckage as he holstered his blaster once again and stood up, roughly setting his hat back on his head. “Disrespectful fuckin’ tin can,” He muttered, “Yah don’t dance on the graves of yer enemies.”
“Can’t blame you for that,” The other camera drone said, floating a few feet away, “The boy had potential, and I really thought that he had you for a second.” It mimicked shaking its ‘head’ as it floated in, “But I agree: it’s a petty and undignified thing to make light of such a thing.”
Rimak glanced at the drone, Arthur’s. “Yah don’t seem too broken up ‘bout it,” He observed while reaching into his PAK for some of his herb sticks.
“I knew the kid for all of maybe thirty minutes.” The drone pointed out, “Hard to get attached to, but easy to sympathize with if you know what I mean.” It floated over to him. “Seems you’re short a drone now...mind if I tag along? I’m prone to be shut down now that my contestant is dead.”
Rimak shrugged, “Don’t make a complete ass of yerself like he did and yah can stick around.” He turned and began to walk back towards the less overgrown area of the park, lighting a herb stick as he went. “Say, I didn’t even know yer type could be destroyed. What gives? Usually you drones have energy shieldin’ or somethin’ to keep that from happenin’.”
“Yeah, drones made by the Empire if you recall correctly. We on the other hand were made by some over reaching hypocrite of a goat, so you can expect us to have a few kinks here and there.” The drone responded, “Are you really surprised that Lard-Nar couldn’t even afford up to date camera drones? Or that he’s currently throwing a hissy fit and spouting empty threats along the lines of having me slef destruct?”
For the first time since he arrived Rimak cracked a smile and blew out a puff of scented smoke as he looked at his new drone. “Yah know...I think we might be liable to get along much better than I did with mah last drone.” The Irken said, approving of this replacement. “But what makes yah so certain that he won’t deactivate yah?”
“He didn’t think to buy replacements, and we’re hundreds of miles from any other drones,” The drone explained, “That and he’s riding bitch to a Control Brain who won’t let him-oh! And here comes those food supplies.”
A crate appeared close by in a pillar of golden light which faded as quickly as it had appeared. It was a medium sized metal container which popped open automatically, allowing Rimak to see the food supplies within...including a few extra snack cakes.
“Wow...he actually thought Arthur had you,” The drone observed, “...and he forgot to remove those extra snack cakes he promised the kid before sending this down.”
“Well, it sucks to be him then,” Rimak said as he sat down in front of the crate and began to make himself a makeshift meal, eating his fill while allowing the drone to get a close up of him munching on the snack cakes. After a few minutes he finished and gave out a light burp as he got to his feet. “Alright, all done, yall can have the leftovers back.” He waved one hand dismissively before the crate vanished.
“The goat says he hopes you choke, he actually ordered me to tell you that just now.” The drone informed Rimak. “...say, supposing you win this...any chance that I might be able to tag along with you? I mean...my long term employment in this whole death tournament thing isn’t looking too bright and I’d actually like to live long enough to maybe upgrade myself to some kind of standard condition.”
Rimak gave an amused chuckle as he tilted his hat, “We’ll talk,” He promised, his grim mood from earlier lifted and forgotten, “Fer now, how about we have ourselves a game? We each make up a new method in which I could end Lard-Nar’s life after this is all over and whoever can’t make up a more creative method loses.”
"What happened to not dancing on the graves of your enemies?"
"Never said anythin' about not plottin' their demise with a surplus of satisfaction."
“Oh well in that case you are ON!” The drone declared as the duo departed. “Okay I’ll go first. This first one is something most people don’t know about Vortian horns so you might wanna take note, it’ll come in handy later on.”
And thus a new friendship was born.
|I'm looking to get a subscription, but at the rate I spend my points I will have some trouble. For now...I'm just hoping anybody who likes some of the stories I put up might donate a few. I am in no way pressuring anybody to, I'm only saying it would be appreciated-plus I can still collect points the old fashioned way...though for some reason I can't access my badges page to give away badges for points. I managed to get to it using my computer's history, but I'm honestly not sure if that was supposed to happen or if it's another error. Either way, I chose to open this.|
The only thing I could offer right now would be a written entry with one of your own characters in it. If you would like one in return for points, just say so.