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By Ant Ulijn All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Scifi

The Runner

Travis looked down at the screen and frowned. He had been tracking this Runner for a few days now, waiting for the ideal time to apprehend him and claim the bounty. It was the usual story. The guy had made one too many promises to the wrong people and when it came time for them to collect on said promises, he came up short. Very short. Hardly remarkable on the surface but it was the story behind the story that made this one the most lucrative and possibly last hunt he would go on.

Avery Hubble was the son of one of the most influential men in Cable City. He was also a well known cocaine addict and gambler who often needed his father's help to bail him out of his debts. Recently his father had disowned Avery quite publicly and with that revoked all the privilege the young man had become accustomed to. He had also removed the only protection Avery had against people like Travis.

Travis was a Collector. Not exactly the most inventive or original of titles but it pretty much described what he and others like him did. Collectors were engaged by people who had exhausted all other avenues of debt collection or were collecting on debts of a less that legal nature. To the Taxation Authority, he was a self employed consultant but it would be far more accurate to call him a bounty hunter. Travis chuckled at the idea of handing in his Income Statement each year with the job title of Bounty Hunter on it. Would raise a few eyebrows and more than a few few red flags no doubt.

Avery's tracking chip gave off another blip, the screen lighting up briefly, and Travis noted the speed at which is was moving , a clear indication he was in some kind of vehicle. The government mandated chips were surgically implanted at birth into every person on Earth and anyone found without one was held in custody for interrogation, implanting and incarceration. Whilst the original idea behind the chips had been noble and well thought out, they were technology and technology can always be exploited. It was this technology that Collectors made their money on by hacking the global tracking system known as Prodigal .

Starting his car, Travis linked his tracker into the guidance system and the vehicle took off at a moderate speed. This function allowed him to pay attention to the tracking information and not have to watch the road. His car was fairly inconspicuous. It wasn't old enough to look un-roadworthy but wasn't new enough to draw attention. Everything about being a collector revolved around blending in and the better you were at it the more bounties you collected. Travis noted that the tracking signal was now stationary and coming from a less than desirable section of this precinct.

Pulling the car over manually, he made sure he had everything he would need for apprehension. He wasn't a big fan of the more traditional weapons but he always carried a fully charged Imobiprobe on him in case things got out of control. The small tube fired self propelled darts which delivered a heavy but not lethal dose of sedative which took effect in seconds. It was a last resort as carrying a dead weight was not something any Collector looked forward to but in some cases it was necessary. Taking a deep breath to centre himself, Travis opened the door and prepared for the chase

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