Wanted Part 2: The Cyber-Mutant Underground of Kara’Kresh

Gadaron Port authority took her as the Bounty Hunter easily, with the help of her powers. The boy was too over confidant. He had left a data trail light years long, leading to this backwater world, where he was hired in the first place. And what a world it was…

Gadaron Space Port, on Kara’Kresh, was a seething city, on a hot world that has seen way too much corporate development in it’s time. Over-industrialized, over-populated at one time, it was finally forgotten after the Second Karian War. It’s now a wet, polluted, hopeless world where the rejects of Expanse come to hide, try to make a living or scavenge the ruins of both industrial plants of old, and ancient alien ruins still standing in some areas. It was a pinnacle of technology at one time, but now a wasteland of obsolescence.

However, there is one thing that does thrive on this world. The techno-underground, where anyone can get anything outlaw-tech for almost any ruinous price. From illegal cyber-ware, to hard-to-get experimental bio-ware, from enhancing drugs, to booster-nanites, anything was here.

The young dead bounty hunter, Harming Ellos – former soldier from the Cyber-Brigade turned AWOL, now dead – turned out to be heavily modified himself. With bio-ware implants for strength and agility, and cyber-implants for just about everything else, he would have been formidable if he hadn’t been so weak-minded. That’s the problem with that many implants is that it does weaken the mind and the soul. You need both to be able to resist her powers.

It was raining. It was a stinging rain, with a slight chemically smell too it. Diara was glad for the chemical treatment of the armor suit. It helped her avoid any skin burns. Damn acid rain. In the mist caused by the rain, hover-skiffs and repulse-bikes flew buy above, while ground vehicles battled their way through traffic below. This was the busiest city on the planet, because it had the spaceport.

Diara came to where she wanted to be. It’s always a bar. Why is it always a bar? One of the drawbacks of her physical assets was the harassment she constantly received when she walked into places like this. Thankfully, she was wearing the bounty hunter helmet this time. But there was not telling how popular this guy was here either. Standing a block away from the bar, she took a deep breath and reviewed her facts in her mind.

She had a name: Jarus Nell. He was the contact person the boy dealt with. Nell was a Cyber-Demon – a street term for a heavily mutated human with cyber-ware. Mutations were another problem on many worlds like this. But looking around, it seemed like it had more than its’ share. Over the last several centuries, since the Terran Expanse found FTL flight, started colonizing and terraforming worlds, mutations through the generations have grown worse and more radical. This planet seems to have been the extreme of that, perhaps because of the terraforming and re-terraforming that occurred through out its colonial history.

Other facts she knew – Nell paid Ellos half up-front, and would pay half on proof that she was dead. Diara knew from Ellos’s logs that Nell had 4 bodyguards at all times, all cyber-demons of some kind or another. Most of his entourage were addicts to tree’deshian spice also known as Tree-Dew, including Nell himself. She had heard of the degenerative effects it has on its addicts, from the addicts that existed in the noble courts. Initially, the buzz is a slow one, but as time goes on and the user becomes an addict, the buzz is instantaneous, and debilitating. Tree-Dew normally comes in liquid form, to be injected intravenously or dropped under ones eyelids. However, a very rare and potent powder form existed, and that is what she had.

Very few people knew the effects it had on the mind’s eye and the internal defenses most sentients had against her power – there sense of reality and unreality, their willpower and their soul. This coupled with the amount of cyber Nell had, she hoped, would make Nell an easy source of information.

The bar was called the Grinding Stone, a hole-in-the-wall place, set near a dark alley lit by neon light and a single street light. People stood outside, one being a bouncer/guard-type. He was a Untharian, a huge hulk of a beast with a carapace-like skin, and a head somewhat reminiscent of a rhino merged with a insect. They were multi-limbed with several natural attacks and defenses. Perfect for his job here. And there was no telling how much cyber this one had, or if he was a mutant.

Diara had to play it cool, in hopes that Mr. Ellos didn’t frequent this place as often as she suspected.

“Not you again, hot shot!” came the reverberating voice of the Untharian.

Damn. Diara disguised her voice the best she could. “I have to see Nell. I have what he needs”

“Oh really? Hmmmm…” the creature scanned her with it’s antennae. “Leave your cannon at the door as usual, and keep the rest holstered this time. We’ll be watching you, hot shot. No funny business.”

Diara removed the assault rifle from her shoulder, and handed it off to the check-counter tenant at the door. She then walked into the smoke-infested room, and was assaulted by the collage of smells, sounds and sites of the Grinding Stone. It was a haven for cyber-demons, nitro-geeks, transients and addicts of the area. It lay in the midst of what once was the industrial zone, so many factory workers and miners used to frequent the place.

The place was very industrial in motif. It was pretty crowded, with assorted aliens from all corners of the region, some she didn’t recognize. What she didn’t see was Nell. She had seen a picture on Ellos’s logs, so she had an idea what she was looking for – short, slouched, grayish skin and cybered with second clone-tech. Her first instinct was go to the bartender, which she did.

“You again? I thought Nell said not to allow you back until you had what he was looking for…” the gruff towering beast of a bartender grumbled.

“Maybe I have what he was looking for…” disguising her voice again. The Bartender stopped and raised an eyebrow … or what would pass as one if he were human.

In a matter of minutes, the word has spread around, and she was escorted to the back, where Nell resided, on busy nights. He hated crowds, some say he even feared them. The smoke seemed to get thicker as she was brought in the back. The smells became even worse. Her distinguished nose was never meant to come this close to any of the sites and smells she was experiencing her. How things change for a noble woman.

Nell’s room was as attractive as the rest of the place, with a little more leather and less steel girders. It was a small 15 X 25-foot room with a barred back door she spied in the shadows. Nell was surrounded by four female “beings” of unknown origin behind an old office desk, and his bodyguards were spread out around the room. Littered around the room were assorted old furniture and a pool table in the far corner.

“Well, if it isn’t little Ellos himself, already back from his adventures… She scare you away, boy? She is said to be rather persuasive.” Nell blew a cloud of smoke from his gor’an-weed cigar. Yet, another vice. No wonder this guy was a mutant.

Diara scanned the room with her inner strength and sensed others behind a wall, listening in – 2 others, armed and anxious. She focused on them for a short minute, while she spoke in her Ellos-impression. “I have what you want…” She held up a leather satchel. Inside was something she wished she hadn’t had to do, but the bounty hunter’s data insisted that the evidence of the kill was her severed head. Thank the gods that the bounty hunter was blond, it might buy her more time.

Diara heard the quiet thud that told her that the hidden-two had fallen asleep, just as she wanted.

Nell dismissed the females, who reluctantly left. Nell looked intrigued, but disgusted. She knew his type couldn’t stomach a severed head. He probably won’t even take it out of the bag. He opened the bag slightly, and peered in. He made a face as he saw the bloodied blond hair…”Did you have to be so messy?” as she suspected, he didn’t pull the head out, only saw the hair.

“I’m changing the deal,” Diara said abruptly. This drew the attention of the bodyguards. She instinctively moved her hand closer to her holstered blaster pistol. That move was followed up by the sound of a sword being unsheathed, the mechanical hum signifying a slight modification to the blade – vibro-sword. Probably mono-edged as well. That thing would cut through this armor like hot Ow’oonga fat.

“Easy now, gentlemen. Let’s here the whelp out.” Nell eased back in his desk chair as if it was his throne.

Diara’s senses told her that the one with the sword was inches from taking her out. She conjured up a little surprise for him, and stored in the back of her mind, in case it got nasty. “I want to take it to your benefactor myself. In return, you can keep half the bounty.” She figured he was already keeping half, but now he’d be getting three-quarters of it.

This did get his attention. He leaned forward from his chair. “And all you require of me is the identity and location of my benefactor, is that it?” She couldn’t glean it from his mind that easily. That part of her powers was not completely developed. But she did sense he knew something she could use.

But she also got the feeling he wasn’t giving it up so easily.

“Well, to be honest, boy, I am not authorized to give you that information…” His cybered-left eye gleamed at her. She knew he had that data somewhere in those extra data-chips he had installed in his left-lobe. She just had to get in there, past his natural defense. She gripped the small bag of Tree-Dew powder in her hand. She just needed a moment.

He leaned closer. “Did you hear me? Hand over the head and walk away. You can pick up your pay at the door.”

Diara had to make the move now. He was close enough that the powder would lower his defenses just long enough for her to pick his data. It was a complicated invocation, but she learned that non-organics was easier than organics to pull information from, if you knew how to read it.

Diara leaned closer and sensed the bodyguard’s heightened sense of awareness. She had the one closest covered; the rest would probably get one shot off at most. She took her chances.

The cloud of reddish dust exploded from her hand with a thought, and Nell was suddenly thrown in a daze. She searched hard and as soon as her she knew she had found it, she triggered her next surprise.

The blade in the hand on the bodyguard suddenly disappeared. The bodyguard then stiffed. Blood began to pour from his mouth. The bodyguard then suddenly split in half, vertically, and the sword fell out from between the pieces. The sword had re-materialized inside him.

Nell slouched over in his chair, blood seeping from his nose. The cloud was probably too potent for him. He will probably OD before she even gets out of the room. Diara was not hanging around to find out. One blast struck near her as she dove over the desk. She lashed out with her power, again.

Two bodyguards had moved in and were in close proximity to each other. Big mistake. In a flash, the still-hot blaster in the one guard’s hand exploded. The fiery eruption engulfed them both, killing at least one of them, and incapacitating the other, at the very minimum. That was going to attract attention from the outside, she thought, picturing the lumbering Untharian already running from the door to the back.

Another blast struck her in the shoulder, knock her back. The armor absorbed most of it. Diara lifted her blaster, and fired back. Two quick blasts felled the on-coming guard. She looked at her blaster. Conventional means are not beneath me, she thought and smiled for a moment.

Diara got up, the burn from the shoulder wound telling her the armor didn’t absorb as much as she thought. Nell was still in his chair, twitching and drooling, as the powder wreaked havoc on his neural system. She removed the helmet to show her face to him. She knew some part of him could register the sight. She saw in his eyes that it had.

“Sorry, partner…. Deals off.” Diara searched his body and his desk for any credits. She found his half of the bounty. “You can pick up your share at the door…”

Before the Untharian came bursting into the room, she was out and through the back. She left a small surprise for the Untharian however – in the form of a small detonator in the hands of Nell. As soon as his neural systems shut down, which she guess would be soon, the device would drop out of his hand, spoon would be released and BOOM. She was a block away when she heard the results of her surprise.

Damn, that was some potent stuff.

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