Day Zero – Morning
I knew my mark had spotted me when he threw a car in my direction.
It was a small one, a faded yellow two seat electric model with balding tyres and a cracked rear window. Funny the kinds of things you notice when someone tosses a car at you. The improvised missile cartwheeled end over end across the road and I had to run like a crazy woman to avoid being squished.
I got clear just in time, the yellow car smashing down onto the sidewalk right where I had been standing. A couple of other cars parked nearby started blaring out their anti-theft alarms in sympathy, making sure that every single eyeball on the street was looking right at me.
My mark was a Bail jumper named Blue Feydor, a Caucasian male aged twenty five who worked in construction. There had been no mention of him being a Booster, one of the Awakened, so that made him an Unregistered too. Right now he was grinning madly at me from his side of the street, then gave me the finger and bolted down a side alley.
I set off in hot pursuit, my heavy boots slamming down onto the cracked road surface as I gave chase. Running down a Bounty is not my idea of fun, which is why I had been following him stealthily through the back streets of the Spit. My plan had been to wait until he was in some place with limited exits and corner him.
Like all my plans, that had been half-assed at best which is why I was now chasing him in front of all the civilians. At least they jumped out of my way, obviously not wanting to get between me and a guy who threw cars like they were a baseball.
I reached the alley and paused, unlocking the cage of the little monster that lived inside of me and sending it questing ahead. It wanted to be set loose but I kept it reined in, only using it to heighten my hearing. The Gunsinger located what I was expecting to hear – my mark had stopped about twenty meters down the alley, breathing hard but otherwise standing still.
With a wary step I turned the corner and looked for Feydor. I spotted him at the same time he clocked me. The Booster already had a big dumpster in his hands and he hurled it in my direction, garbage spewing from the flapping metal lid as it spun towards me.
I let my monster loose and screamed in my loudest high pitched note. Feydor flinched but I wasn’t targeting him. Not yet. My little monster took the sonic vibrations I had emitted and shaped them into a wall of semi-solid air, shielding me from the oncoming metal bin.
My air shield is still pretty weak and I know I need to practise it more. There was no way it could stop the weighty dumpster all by itself, but that was not my intention. I angled the air shield over me, using it to deflect the heavy bin to one side even as I ran forwards. It crashed spectacularly against a concrete wall, splattering the grey surface with assorted bags of trash and loose cans.
The mark looked a little stunned as I guess he hadn’t known I was an Awakened too. At least my Ability was Registered so I didn’t have as much to fear from the authorities.
“Give it up, Feydor” I shouted. “Don’t make me hurt you!”
He was looking a lot less certain now yet he was still game, I could tell that from his eyes as I closed in. I suppose from his viewpoint I wasn’t much of a threat. What he saw was a shortish, slender girl in black shorts wearing an oversized armour vest that looked like she was playing at Bounty Hunter. He was easily twenty centimeters taller than me and probably massed twice my tiny weight.
Feydor stepped into the centre of the alley and drew a short prybar from his belt. He slapped it experimentally in his hands and smirked at me, daring me to come closer. I stopped about three meters short and gave him my best official Bounty Hunter glare.
“Look Feydor, you know I have to bring you in” I said reasonably. “Just come quietly with me and we can re-post your Bail and set you loose again”
“I don’t think they will let me go, not after today” he stated and narrowed his eyes. My hands held no obvious weapons and there was nothing holstered at my belt.
“What kind of freak are you, anyway?” he demanded.
“Gunsinger” I answered, trying to put as much menace into my high pitched voice as I could.
“What?” he laughed. “That’s not a real Ability! You just made that up”
I got this kind of crap all the time, ever since I had self-Awakened at age twelve. Technically I was registered as an Aeromancer, able to manipulate sound waves and form semi-solid barriers and projectiles from the air.
“Is so a real Ability!” I countered, feeling like I was arguing with the other kids at my old orphanage again. “Don’t make me set my little monster on you” I warned him but he just laughed one more time.
“Nah, you’re a little punk chick full of hot air” he replied and turned his back on me. Bastard was going to ignore me and wander off like I was not a duly authorised Bounty Hunter.
“Hey, Feydor!” I yelled out to his retreating back. “My Gunsinger wants to play with you!”
The mark turned and eyed me speculatively, hefting his prybar. He yelled and charged at me, swinging the weapon like he was going to bash my skull in. I opened my mouth and screamed, good and loud, letting the anger this prick had fostered in me fully out into the world. My Gunsinger surged from me, taking up all the sonic resonance I had created and focussing it into a single ball of solid air.
It rammed into Feydor’s rather surprised head and drove him a good three steps backwards before he fell stunned to the alley floor. I walked over to his prone form and prodded his body carefully with my boot. He was out cold and I allowed myself a happy grin.
The guy was lucky I needed him intact, otherwise I would have shaped the air into a bullet. My Gunsinger is named that way for a reason, but it could make non-lethal strikes if I controlled it enough.
I had rolled him onto his front and cuffed his sorry ass when I sensed movement at the mouth of the alley. Turning my head, I could see a Jill from the Guard watching me curiously. She was looking from me to the prone form of Feydor and her right hand was resting lightly on her pistol holster.
“Crap on a stick” I muttered to myself then plastered a friendly smile on my mug and stood upright, hands loosely at my side.
“Morning, Officer” I said politely and tried to appear unthreatening and authoritative at the same time. “This man is wanted for jumping Bail and I am taking him in”
The Jill approached the pair of us and I realised she was alone. That seemed pretty unusual as they always patrolled in pairs or threes. Her hand was still resting on her holster, but since she left the gun in there I supposed she didn’t feel like I was a problem.
“Ident” she intoned in that passive-agressive way the Guard clones have, making a statement into a request you couldn’t ignore. I fished around under my vest and pulled out my phone, bringing up the Bounty Hunter licence.
She leaned in close, her six foot frame having to bend down to my rather more modest stature.
“Millicent Viola Hargreaves” she read aloud in her flat monotone. “Bounty Hunter Number Alpha-Two-Three-Six, licenced in the Pan Oceanic Special Zone. Age Twenty One”
The Jill gave me a stare and I tried to look as old as my licence fraudulently claimed I was. In fact I was 17 years old (actually 17 and a half – those extra 6 months are really important I reckoned). When people ask me I tell them I am 21, because that is the minimum age to be a licenced Hunter. I think I pull that off as sometimes I can be very mature when I want to be.
She blinked and I could have sworn there was a hint of a smile on her lips.
“Do you need assistance with your apprehension, Citizen Hargreaves?” she asked me.
“No, no, I’m good” I stammered and did that little wave of the hands in front of me that signified I was up to no good and wanted her to leave. Luckily for me she ignored that and bent over to look at Feydor who was groggily coming around.
“Is this the individual who threw the car?” she enquired.
“Ah, yeah” I admitted. I tapped on my phone again and showed her the arrest warrant issued for him and the associated Bounty I was trying to claim.
She read the details and cocked her head to one side for a few seconds. I guessed she was accessing the Guard network for details on my mark.
“Blue Feydor is not Registered as an Awakened” she informed me. “He is therefore under arrest for Use of an Unregistered Ability with Intent to Cause Harm” The Jill knelt at his side and picked him up easily like he was a sack of potatoes and slung him over a broad shoulder.
“Hey!” I shouted. “He was my capture! I really need to claim the Bounty for bringing him in!”
The Jill regarded me blankly for a beat then nodded agreement.
“Please follow me to the Guard Post and you will receive your Bounty” she said calmly. With that she strode out of the alley, my mark bouncing unhappily on her shoulder.
I followed her, marvelling at how easily she carried the big guy. If it had been me, I had planned on dragging him to the kerb and summoning an Auto-Cab. There was no way I could have lifted a lump of muscle like that.
The Guard Post had been a good ten minute walk and for the last half of it Feydor had been struggling and kicking to get free. At least he had been until the Jill pulled a canister of Stun Gas from her belt and liberally dosed him right in the face.
I hung back, because the Guards may not be affected by it but us regular humans certainly were.
Once he was limp again she re-shouldered her burden and continued the walk. I had to admit to being impressed and wondered what it would be like to have a Guard Clone as a partner. An idle fantasy I knew since the clones were all run by Archimedes.
Anyway we finally arrived at the Post and she logged in the captive with the human Police Auxiliary Officer on duty. He processed the file and made me sign the release form with my electronic thumbprint. I checked the bank balance on my phone and the Bounty duly landed into the account.
Three Hundred Pandas! If he had been a Registered Awakened it would have been more yet in that case I doubted my boss would have assigned me the mark. Still, I needed the money so I thanked the Police Auxiliary and waved a goodbye to the Jill. She was busy stuffing Feydor into a secure containment cell, one of the special ones for Awakened like him so I wasn’t sure if she saw me.
I hit the hot and sweaty noon-time streets and wandered in the direction of my apartment. As I walked I heard my phone ping so I checked the alerts. It was from my apartment landlord, reminding me my monthly rent was already two weeks past due.
With a heavy heart I authorised the payment transfer, plus a couple others I had been putting off. Once the funds left my account I had a remaining balance just shy of fifty seven Pandas.
Ten minutes after my payday and I was damn near broke again! This seemed to be how I lived my life these days, chasing down low level Bounties and trying to keep my bank account in the black.
So, since I am telling you my story I had better give some background I guess. No point in me telling you about what I got involved in without describing who I am.
First off, welcome to my blog. This is my first time trying to recount all the stuff I have been though so please be patient with me. I reckoned what I have been part of was worth recording, even if it is a one-sided tale told by me!
Like I mentioned before, my full name is Millicent Viola Hargreaves, but I like to call myself Millie. The Sisters at my old orphanage called me Millie Stop That! most of the time.
Height wise I am average, about 165 centimetres and with a compact build. My hair is blonde, almost white, and I keep it short and spiky. I have blue eyes that I think are sometimes green depending on the light. I guess I look average in the beauty stakes. Some people tell me I am cute when I remember to smile. That is a punchable offence in my book.
I am a good runner and I have a mean left hook that I can sucker punch guys with. Sister Venerae at the orphanage taught me some really cool punches and kicks while she was there. All the kids used to say she was an ex-Soldier or police officer or something and were pretty scared of her. I liked her because she was always nice to me. And she taught me how to fight, which may not have been such a good idea considering how things turned out.
My job is a pretty weird one, but I live in the Spit so I get a bit of work. I am a bona fide Bounty Hunter. That’s right. I get commissioned to find and apprehend criminals who have broken their bail bonds and haul them in. My boss is Daniel-san who runs Danny’s Bonds & Brokers here in the Spit.
Oh, and I am a Gunsinger.
Now you are probably reading this and thinking those Sisters didn’t teach me how to spell. Like I missed an “L” out of Gunsinger. Shows how much you people know. Officially I was classed as an Accoustic Amplifier and Projector. It’s a kind of Aeromancer. So yes, that means I am an Awakened. One of those scary folk you hear about who can use unholy powers that normal people should never be able to do. I don’t think of myself as particularly scary, but the other kids at the orphanage were freaked out by me.
Like most Awakened, I have the genetic mutation caused by the V-Bomb that went off in California. It started to show itself when I was just 12 years old. The Sisters all went crazy, thinking my Awakening was some kind of possession by the Devil. Except Sister Venerae. She just told them all I was Awakened and got me tested.
Sure enough I was one of those rare people that my power just revealed itself once I hit puberty. I didn’t need to be Awakened by the training centres. I just did it all by myself.
So now you are thinking, what the hell is a Gunsinger? Like it says on my file in some Pan City bureaucrats office, I can amplify and project any sound waves near me into semi-solid forms. If I want better control of the sounds, I make them myself. I am actually a terrible singer, but I can whistle and sing the right notes to do some pretty cool tricks.
My best trick? It’s all in the name. I can make bullets out of sound. The higher the note and volume, the bigger my bullet and the harder it hits. You know some people say a harsh word can cut right to your soul? Mine can penetrate ballistic cloth at 100 meters.
But enough boasting about me and my amazing skills. I better tell you how this mess all started.