Chapter 1 (Era)
Era ran across the cold streets and stared up at the mile high buildings. This city had been barren for years, it had been destroyed long ago, but many scavengers still roamed around in the few bottom tier bars that were still open. Her business had brought her here to do the dirty work of her employer. The bars of this city were great places to strike deals and exchange money, and good places for powerful people to get in trouble. His name had been Ohern Raen. He had been a wealthy and powerful man, until she had killed him. It was no hard feelings simply that she had a job to do, and being a bounty hunter and all meant that she had to kill a few people to get the job done.
Of course now his goonies are after her, because of course she had just killed their leader. Era hadn’t expected to be running away from this many Hinders though, she hadn’t even known he had this many followers because of course, she had failed to do much research on the guy before she killed him. At the time she hadn’t had much of a choice though, she still needed the money. She ran down the empty dark streets reloading her gun. She looked back over her shoulder and took two shots at her pursuers. A shout from behind telling her that she had hit a target. She ran on ahead until she found an open bar and ran in.
The bar was fairly dark with dim yellow lighting and was mostly occupied by men. She slide into a booth and flipped her hood up. Era glanced around and notice that she had caught the eye of a few men, but no matter, she could fight them off if need be. She saw the bartender eye her suspiciously, and quickly glanced away.
Her pursuers suddenly burst into the bar taking all the attention of the customers. She counted eight of them. Era watched them walk up to the bar and speak with the bartender, but she didn’t catch any of their conversation. The bartender jerked his head her way and she watched as the eight Hinders slowly approached.
The Hinders were a species from Inhor, a moon in the Halzar sector. Their faces had two noses in order to breath in enough chemicals to live since the air there is so thin. They had two sets of eyes with one set placed on either side of their head, and webbed hands in order to swim in the swampy environment.
They gathered around her and Era crossed her arms and waited.
“What have you wanted with Raen?” one asks his voice scratchy and slow not used the Galean language,
“That is my business,” she said
“And it would be our business to kill you for what you have done,” another said pulling out his gun.
He was too slow, she pulled out a radar bomb and pressed the button, holding her breathe as it shot a circular beam out of it that grew to a ten foot diameter before it dissipated. In less then a second after she activated the radar bomb, all of the Hinders had fallen to the ground dead.
She reached into her pocket and pulled out the last of her money, 350 Halli and handed it to the bartender.
“Sorry for the trouble,” she said and walked out the door.
Her pod ship the Infinitum, was docked just out of the limits on a hill that overlooked the deserted city. When she reached it she saw some scapers (small pests that originated from this planet, Era found them annoying, but many people keep them as pets because they think they are “cute”) sniffing it. Era quickly shooed them away, and reached for her belt and pressed a button on her PCT that opened the Infinitum’s hatch door, she climbed inside the pod, and threw her pack of stuff in the co-pilot’s seat.
Era sat and waited for the engine to warm up, the nights on this prairie based planet were cold and the engine on her pod ship wouldn’t enter light speed as well if it was forced to fly cold. Era waited patiently and watched the barren dark city.
She wondered what such a place was like when it was full of residents and life. Its buildings stretched more than a mile up, and it was made to endure great dust storms when the planet endured a dry season. Era looked down at the ruined rubble that stretched along the city’s outskirts and sighed knowing that this city was one of the taboos of the war.
She was just about to turn the take off gear on her pod ship on, when she caught a glimpse of light out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head and looked back at the city and watched in awe as a sudden fire ripped through its streets. There were no true civilians living there, only bums who cared for drink, and underlings who had masters to cater for, but she still felt a pang as she watched the flames engulf the city.
Era watched the flames spread fast due to the high level of oxygen in the air, and heard the creaking of buildings from as far away as she was. Suddenly a huge building began to topple. Era saw the skyscraper, a near mile and a half tall fall and crash into more buildings that began to topple and set off a chain reaction. The buildings begin to crash into each other and eventually they started to hit the outskirts of the city and fall towards Era’s pod ship. A building began to topple and stretched out landing only a hundred yards from her still parked ship. She heard a rattling boom and felt the ground shake from the impact. She looked at the temperature gage on the dash and bit her lip, another five minutes were necessary in order for it to be warm enough to take off.
She looked back at the city and suddenly stared wide eyed when she saw the huge ship descend from the sky. No doubt that it was an Orium celestial cruiser. It took up the whole sky and began to block out the stars. The ship must have been the reason for the city to begin to burn. Era watched as large laser shots were fired from its ion cannons. It’s huge figure stretched across the horizon and Era crossed her fingers that it wouldn’t send out any smaller ships into the collapsing city. She glanced at her dash and saw that she still had over three minutes of wait time left until the engine was warm.
Era cast another glance at the huge ship and wondered why it was here. Raen was not the only powerful person on this planet she knew of, but who was here that the Orium nation would want so bad that they would send a huge celestial cruiser to destroy them, and of course why would they go such lengths on an abandoned conquered planet?She heard a sudden soft whining and looked out her window.
It was what she had feared, T-pods.
They descended into the city and she saw them whizz around between the falling buildings. She quickly turned on the take off gear and glanced at her dash.
Just a few minutes to go.
The celestial cruiser was starting to fly towards her pod, with the T-pods following it. Era glanced at the huge space craft that was almost on top of her. She couldn’t wait any longer. Conscious of the effect that it would have on her attempts to enter light speed, she quickly began to prepare for take off. Era glanced out at the city, and the T-pods, the shadow of the celestial cruiser was over her and she bit her lip until it bled. Blood filled her mouth as she entered in the security code, and her pod began to hover above the ground, the landing gear folded up beneath it. Era grabbed the controls and willed the ship forward, and shot away.
She quickly drove towards the city and out from under the shadow of the massive Orium cruiser. She neared the city limits when a sudden T-pod came out of nowhere and began firing on her. Era quickly turned and the shots missed her, but moments later another pod began to fire on her. She weaved in and out between falling buildings trying to go up so she could leave this planet however with the T-pods on her trail, Era was unable to enter into the open. She checked her radar and saw that she now had a dozen so T-pods following her. She heard their shots, but she kept weaving and dodging hoping that they wouldn’t hit her.
A sudden building came crashing down in her path, but she quickly dodged. Era heard a loud boom and noticed three T-pods had disappeared on her radar. She sighed and kept going towards a large building that was still intact. Suddenly, a T-pod was coming in in front of her, it shot twice and hit one of the Infinitum’s boosters, and her ship wobbled for a moment before she stabilized it. She was going much slower now that she was lacking a booster and frantically drove towards a large building.
She reached its base just as another T-pod fired at her. She took a shot at it even though she was a horrible gunner and missed. She cursed and looped around the building and began to use it as a guide to drive up. She followed the building up higher in the air and saw that only one pod was following her. She chewed her swollen lip as she soared up into the atmosphere. Then her radar began beeping. Era looked at it and saw that the celestial cruiser was right below her. She pushed the controls as far as they would go and shot into the atmosphere. Era felt the pull of gravity, but her ship pushed her onward. She felt the remaining pods go back to the ship, and she could tell that they would be gone for a while. Era shot up out of the atmosphere and into starry space. She welcomed the far stretching abyss and drove out into it. The expanse of space stretched on forever, and she could make out other sectors and planets in the distance. Era closed her eyes for a moment and allowed her ship to drift away from the planet behind her, and took a deep breath relishing in her escape.
Era sighed knowing that she couldn’t sit around too long, and typed in coordinates for the Orium system. It had been a while since she had gone back to the Orium system which was located on the other side of the galaxy. The Orium moon of Desna was her true destination. The moon was known for it’s high crime rates but also for it’s huge gambling, shopping and luxury districts whose owners were easily won over with coin and promises of power in exchange for helping aid the Orium war cause. Her employer owned the Renandá Grandeur, the second biggest casino in the system, and most exquisite one in the galaxy. He was the master of the Desna world, and one of the richest men of the time. However, Era despised him. She was constantly reminded of a debt that she owed him for raising her and that she was so lucky to be one of his three bounty hunters.
Era gritted her teeth as she tried to prepare the ship for light speed, knowing it would be rough with one of her boosters shot out. She honestly didn’t want to go home, but until she did, she wouldn’t have the money to get far regardless of how bad of shape her ship was after that last fight.
Those stupid Orium T-pod fighters.
Orium Celestial Cruisers shouldn’t have been out this far in the galaxy, at such an unpopulated and already claimed planet, especially since they have been having so much trouble with the Halo system. The Oriums have been trying to crack a shell like the Halo system for years, but to no avail. Era truly had no care for the Orium conquest, it so far has had little effect on her.
Era turned on the light speed boosters, and flipped a switch preparing herself for the lurch forward into light speed. It came, but a lot worse than she expected. The missing booster caused the ship to lurch and jostle as it went along, the whole view of space a flash. She looked at her TMB control and saw that the estimated flight time was 34 minutes. She leaned back in her chair, and closed her eyes, ready for a much needed nap. She hoped that when she reached Desna, she would be rested well enough to take on her employer.
Era woke with a jolt and suddenly noticed that the Infinitum was dropping out of lightspeed. She looked at the dash and saw a flashing light indicating that the boosters were unable to power the ship much longer due to the lack of the one. She cursed and checked her radar and saw the Urlin system wasn’t too far off and set her sights for the closest moon. She quickly got to work typing in the coordinates, and sent the ship into preparation for landing. She hurried, reading diagnosis on the moon and info on in it’s major cities. She bit her lip seeing that the moon was for the most part uninhabited, but set her sites on the capital city of Ermesia. She coasted into the moon’s weak atmosphere, realizing that it is still in the process of being made habitable. She flew down and shot across the small trees on the moon, that supplied a limited amount of oxygen, and struggled to thrive in the still malnourished soil. She slowly began to see large buildings in the horizon, and recognized a city on her radar. She flew into it, catching the air traffic and worked her way through the towering buildings trying to find her way to the Mechanics district. She looked up the city of Ermesia on her Hub, and found a map on of the city’s districts on it. She was currently flying through district B-9 the Sanitation district. She scrolled through the map and found that the Mechanics district was in D-7. Era turned in between two buildings following the flow of traffic, and flew two districts over before turning again to fly across D-8. The district was full of factories making metal products. She glanced down at all the people walking below through the grimy streets heading to work. She looked away saddened by sight and drove into D-7.
This district was much more appealing, with tall sleek buildings and glossy towers surrounding it. In the center was a large dock for ships, and workmen running around carrying tools and supplies. She found a spot on the far side of the dock, and prepared to land. Her ship glided down into place as she flipped switches and turned dials. The Infinitum landed somewhat gracefully, but slightly lopsided due to its broken booster. She sighed once the ship was safely on the ground and turned it off. Era glanced around from the cockpit at all the other ships around her, many were bigger than hers, however, the Infinitum was more sleeker and modern than any other ship she saw. Era left the cockpit of her ship and walked down to the ramp, hitting a button on the wall deploying it. She walked down and was met with a gruff mechanic.
He appeared to be no more than 20, with strawberry blonde hair, a bandana, and a black tank top. He looked down at her, taking in her black clothes, blaster armor, and utility belt. After a moment he spoke.
“I expect you need a repair?”
“Yeah,” She replied, “One of the boosters in her was shot out, and I need her fixed, I have to get back to Desna in as soon as possible.” he nodded.
“Okay let me have a look, and while I am doing that I suggest you change out of you Orium mercenary outfit, you’ll scare some of our customers” with that he circled around to the back of the ship leaving Era in surprised silence.
She supposed he was right for saying that she looked like a mercenary, and she respected his request especially since this place was her ticket off of this moon.
Era walked back up into the ship and down into the underbelly of it where the living corridors were. There were four rooms aboard the Infinitum and Era had made one of them a bit more personal than just the blank walls and bunk. It was a lot nicer now with its added amenities, and a little more like a home to her. Era walked into her room and stripped herself of her clothes which she suddenly realized were covered in dry sweat. She cringed and threw them down a dirty clothes shoot. She walked to her dresser and pulled out some street clothes, a simple yellow t-shirt, and blacks pants and strapped her boots back on. Era slide some of the things on her belt into her pockets, and slipped her blaster into her waistband. She redid her braids, and then return to the dock, where the mechanic was waiting.
“Better,” he said acknowledging her change, “Now then down to business, The rear left side wing booster is completely shot out, I don’t even want to know how, anyway that should be an easy but somewhat expensive fix. However, the light speed cooler is also out. I am assuming you were knocked out of light speed on your way to Desna?” she nodded
“Well see that’s why, the cooler wasn’t able to manage the temperature, and your ship overheated and was forced to come out of light speed. Now then, fixing your ship shouldn’t be too hard probably will take about... three days”
“I don’t have three days!” Era exclaimed, “I have to be in Desna tomorrow!”
“Sorry but this is our busiest season, and the cooler is hard to get to as well as hard to replace, you’ll also need to work up a great deal of money in order to pay for the work done on the ship.” he said.
Era processed his words.
“How much,” She asked cautiously.
“300,000 Hali,” He said. She took a deep breath, 300,000 Hali is a good percentage of the money she would receive as soon as she returned Desna and collected her reward on Raen.
“I can pay that but not now.”
“You have to,” He said a slight edge to his voice.
“I don’t have the money now, I won’t get paid until I get to Desna.” Era said attempting to sound calm.
“That’s not how it works.” She looked at him for a moment.
“I need to speak to your boss,”
Era followed the mechanic down the hall, he was still grumbling about something she couldn’t hear, and she assumed she didn’t want to. He had long strides so she walked quickly to keep up with him.
They were in one of the tall skyscrapers that ringed the district, it was well furnished and very modern on the inside setting the mechanic and her out of place in the lushness of the building. He led her to an elevator, and hit floor 734.
It was dead silent in the elevator and she counted the floors as they went up.
“Why were you shot at by Orium pod ships?” Era looked at the mechanic, surprised.
“How did you know they were Orium?” She asked
“The blast shots, Orium ships use a weak shot, but they are so hot that they easily melt metal.” She shrugged,
“Wrong place, wrong time I had just finished some work and was heading home when they started attacking. They fired on me, but I managed to get out before too much damage was done.” she replied.
“I’ll say, Orium pods are tough to battle, mostly because there’s never just one.” The elevator beeped, and Era looked up at the doors as they opened on floor 734. The hall was just windows on one side, and she was able to look out at the city stretching below, she grinned to herself as she followed the mechanic further down the hall. They reached the door at the end of the hallway where the mechanic pulled out a card, and swiped it across a keypad before touching his finger prints to it. The door slid open, and they stepped inside.
A desk was in the center of the room and behind it, was a chair turned facing a window that looked out upon the docks.
“Hello Grey,” a voice said, the chair swiveled around revealing an Iguan, sitting in it. An Iguan was a fairly humanoid creature with a distinctive height, cat like eyes, forked tongues. Their skin had a pale complexion, and horns curved from their head. They had clawlike hands and hooves for feet making them a very unique species. Era stared at the Iguan surprised as he tilted his head to the side.
“Ah yes I see you have brought me a human, how nice,” He stopped and sniffed the air, “... or a half breed perhaps?” Era swallowed, he shouldn’t know what she was.
“Sir, she requested to talk to you on the subject of payment.” the mechanic said. The Iguan nodded before he ran his eyes along Era sizing her up.
“Everything must be paid in advance.” he said quickly
“I don’t have the money though,” Era replied
“Well then if you work here for enough years, you can easily pay it off.”
“But I can't work here for years, I need to get back to Desna I will get paid there, and I swear I will bring you the 300,000 Hali.” she pleaded. He looked her over.
“No,” She stared at him “I can’t let you do that, this galaxy is so big that you could easily slip away without paying your fee, and I will have lost 300,000 Hali, I can’t afford that,” Era gritted her teeth. She looked around the room and turned to leave.
“Fine then, that’s settled,” the Iguan said smugly. She glanced around the room again and then saw a picture hanging on the wall. It was without a doubt taken at the Renandá Grandeur, and she saw her employer with his hand wrapped around the Iguan’s shoulders even though the creature towered above him. Era turned around and looked back at the Iguan in his chair a smirk playing on his face.
“Do you take credit?” She asked
“What kind of credit?” He asked
“His,” She said pointing to the picture. The Iguan stared at it for a moment then his eyes widened.
“You know him?” he said disbelief running in his voice.
“Yes, I work for him... I am one of his bounty hunters.” she said. Fear flashed across the Iguan’s face. Era realized her edge.
“I just killed a man, and used the rest off my money to bribe off the deaths of his men. When I was leaving, I was mistakenly attacked by Orium ships, now I need my ship repaired so I can go back to my employer and get paid for my job, however, I can’t get back until my ship is repaired.” She stared at the Iguan who stared back his lips tight with concentration and anger, his eyes flashing with fear.
“Fine, I will accept credit, but make sure your employer sends it to me, or my men will hunt you down.” Era looked at him and then slipped a sly smile.
“Deal,”With that she turned and walked out the door, triumphant with her head held high.
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