Avenged by the Alien Bounty Hunter: Chapter Three

Yndon

Ah, the sound of a distress beacon. Music to my ears. Or, it would’ve been had this not been a silent distress beacon. That meant the tech was too high for most ships to detect. But not me.

I had invested very carefully in my ship. This included the technology to be able to spoof specific outgoing messages, using frequencies not used among common traders. It gave me an inside edge to find people who did not want to be found and trick them into leading them to me.

According to a directory I had purchased on a black market, this particular frequency was used by associates of Acan, a slaver who cast a wide net in the area. Many of Acan’s associates had individual bounties on them.

This was a perfect way to start earning my credits to buy my share of the guild.

It took a few moments of fiddling to allow my ship to act as a decoy for the emergency message. As soon as I was ready, I sent a return ping.

The sender replied immediately. Tisk, tisk. Someone was eager to be rescued. The viewscreen resolved and a few moments later, I was looking at the ugly face of Acan himself.

“Finally,” the slaver snarled. “I have been sending out a distress signal for three galactic weeks! What took you louts so long?”

I fought to keep my face natural. This particular transmission had visuals going both ways, which means he could see my face. The fact that Acan thought I was one of his men meant one of two things: he didn’t pay attention to all the grunts who worked for him, or he was suffering from lack of breathable air and it affected his judgment.

“My apologies, boss,” I replied. “Your ship’s signal is weak and we’re having trouble locking on.”

“Moron!” Acan snarled. “I’ll send my coordinates.”

I nodded. Keeping the movements of my hands ambiguous, I checked my outfit’s directory for the payout I would get when I brought in this scumbag.

I nearly fell out of my chair.

Acan’s listed bounty was seven million credits. In addition, there would be a three million credit kicker if he was brought in alive.

This suggested he was either a dangerous target or one with a habit of paying off hunters before they could deliver.

“What’s your ETA?” Acan snarled.

I glanced up, realized that he had already set his exact coordinates. Moron. He hadn’t even checked my ship’s serial number, simply assuming that since I was able to pick up his frequency and called him ‘boss’ that I worked for him.

I did a series of quick calculations. He was not far away—for the given value of interstellar distances.

“I can be there in a half cycle.”

“Make it a quarter cycle,” Acan snapped, cutting the connection with his side.

I stared at the blank screen, pissed at his rudeness. Then my anger took on a grim edge. Acan would find quite the surprise when I boarded.

Still… he had beamed an emergency beacon for three weeks. That meant he should be out of both water and food, possibly low on air if his stellar mood was partially due to low oxygen.

This hunt would be both profitable and easy. My favorite kind.

Punching in the coordinates, I engaged my engines, imagining the look on Landri’s face when I slapped ten million credits worth of tokens on his desk this time tomorrow.

Acan’s yacht had come into view. There was no official up or down in space, but people as a whole tended to follow the same rules of stellar north and south. So, it was easy to see that Acan’s yacht was listing drunkenly on one side. I didn’t see any lit running lights, meaning that she was out of power or running on emergency life reserves only. Even if Acan realized by now that I was a hunter and not one of his men, there was nothing he could do about it. He had nowhere to run. Cutting into the yacht’s hull would be a simple process.

Suddenly, my dashboard lit up with an incoming ping.

I smiled grimly to myself, thinking that Acan finally pulled his head out of his ass and had run my serial number. He was calling to either try to scare me off (which would never happen) or bribe me into taking him to safety without taking him to justice (still wouldn’t happen, but it would be amusing to hear him plead).

I returned the ping and opened the channel without looking at the frequency.

I was completely taken aback when Acan’s ugly face did not fill the view screen. Instead, it was a beautiful human woman.

I found most human women attractive, but this one was… exceptional.

Silken-looking skin, hair the color of the finest bark on my home planet, and large dark eyes that nevertheless seemed to snap with an inner fire. My breath caught, and the surprise allowed her to speak first.

“Frigate M’hintoa, this is Rene of Phoenix Incorporated. You are hereby ordered to back off. This is my prize.”

And just like that, the spell was broken. “Back off?” I snapped. “Who do you think you are?”

She smirked at me. “I’m Rene from Phoenix Incorporated,” she replied in the exact same inflection as before. Treating me like an idiot.

Phoenix Incorporated? They were nothing. A little scavenger operation that rented temporary office space on Station Four. I was outraged. “Listen, scavenger scum—”

“This is your last warning.” Then the woman reached off the screen and cut off our connection.

I barked out a laugh even as my fingers danced across the controls, ordering my ship, the M’hintoa, to increase velocity. Beautiful woman or not, she was out of her human mind if she thought she would claim my prize.

Alarms blared through as a ship approached on a ramming vector. I cursed and jerked my rig to the side out of the way… just in time to see a cheeky tug pull directly into my flight path.

Rene’s ship could barely be called a ship at all. An outsized tug, as ugly as its pilot was beautiful. She must have coaxed every erg of energy out of the engines to pull that maneuver.

Frustrated, I opened up communications. “This is my bounty. Back off if you know what is good for you!”

I did not wait for a reply but powered up my weapons systems. Not that I actually planned on firing upon the obstinate woman, but the threat should be enough to get my message across.

The tug answered by opening a back hatch. Suddenly a stream of objects flew out—a good amount bouncing off my hull. It took seeing the remains of what looked to be a compost heap spatter against my ship’s viewscreen to realize the human had just opened her trash shoot.

I cursed, angry enough that the use of my weapons systems wasn’t so theoretical any longer. But it took only a few moments to see that the trash had served two purposes: it forced me to slow down as impacts in space were not something to take lightly, especially at these speeds, plus, the numerous small objects muddled my data. The computer could no longer get a fix on the craft in front of me.

I had heard human women had minds of their own, but this was ridiculous!

Seething, I could only watch as the boated tug glumped towards the yacht.

However, as soon as the tug got within grappling range, the yacht’s running lights flared to life.

“What the—” I queried the sensors, but the amount of trash played havoc on pinpointing what was going on.

This looks like a trap— I thought with a sense of foreboding.

I pulled the nose of my ship upward into a steep climb. From the view port, I watched the tug do the same. However, the human’s ship was too close to get away.

The yacht admitted a local EMP blast—invisible to the eye, but my sensors caught wind of it anyway, despite the trash littering the area.

I was incredibly lucky. It was our company policy to harden our electronics against EMP blasts whenever possible, as they were effective defensive weaponry. But that could only give so much protection. An EMP moved at light speed, so by the time a ship saw it coming, it had already arrived. And there was virtually nothing that could be done if you were caught within the blast cone.

Sparks leaped off my dashboard as the extra energy rolled off my ship. The tug had caught the blast pointblank. Instantly, it was dead in the water.

As I watched, Acan’s yacht engines lumbered to life. It started to limp away. It seemed like Acan was not quite as helpless as he had advertised.

Thinking quickly, I fired a tracking beacon at the yacht. It struck true and held on tight. Hopefully, the amount of trash littering the area would obscure from Acan the fact he’d been tagged.

I turned my attention to the tug. Momentum carried it forward, but it showed no independent movement. Nothing to indicate the human powered it back to life.

Looked like the human was in need of a rescue. And I wanted a word with her. Personally.

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